In her recent tome, “The Shock Doctrine,” Naomi Klein points out the vulnerability of society to authoritarian take over in the wake of disaster, whether natural or man made. Using the crisis as their excuse, authorities of every stripe will monger up new laws and policies to give themselves more power, ostensibly to cope with the emerging emergency. As examples Klein cites the police and emergency response in New Orleans after “Katrina,” where police shot survivors on suspicion of looting for taking food from the ruins of markets.
More dangerous, however, is the cancerous growth of federal powers in the wake of “9/11.” The “Patriot Act” which strips away protections previously guaranteed by the “Bill of Rights” combined with the creation of the governments largest department, “Homeland Security” have left Americans in an embryonic police state unrivaled since the Stalinist era of soviet repression throughout occupied Europe. This trend toward a total control society has spread from our paranoid war on terror to other hot button issues, including national identification cards and proof of birth for political office holders. Police now stop and question anyone they choose on any criteria of suspicion, despite rulings against “profiling” by our highest courts.
The problem lies in the difficulty of removing or reforming authoritarian policies. Those with the power to instigate reform are the same authorities whose powers we seek to limit. Elected or appointed they are loath to surrender what they see as their necessary tools of office, and will work the inside channels of government to avoid any such diminution
Worse still, the passage of time erodes what outrage the lumpen citizenry may feel, and today’s toddlers will grow up never having known a non-regimented world where cutting school to go duck hunting wasn’t a jail offense. The freedom to travel without repeated police detention for trivial and imaginary offenses is a thing of the past, as are the archaic ideas of home privacy and the protection against self-incrimination in random drug testing.
America has suffered from government encouraged fear for decades; communism, race riots, counter culture peace terrorists and now the turbaned menace from the desert. Dope fiends, pedophiles, anti-tax militias and connubial gays, all threats to our nation contributing to popular paranoia and a willingness to accept repression as the price of security.
Americans need to begin a conversation about what our mythic freedom and liberty really mean, and how they can be reclaimed for our grand children.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.