-- John Oliver
If you're a friend or follower of mine on Facebook, you're familiar with a refrain (or some variation thereof) that I necessarily use more often than I'd like to have to:
Not a police state... not a police state... not a police state...
I call this "The Mantra of the Sheeple," and just in case you couldn't pick up on the intent, it's drenched in sarcasm.
We do live in a police state here in the United States of America. You can blame any number of factors: the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the "War on Drugs," the giving of surplus military equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan to local police forces... and yes, every one of those factors is partly to blame.
But there's an overall theme here which escapes all too many United States citizens. See, when it comes to the situation in which this country is currently embroiled, there are three types of people:
- The Sheeple
These are the ones who do not recognize reality whatsoever; those who will deny with every last breath in their body that there is anything even remotely out of place about the ever-increasing use of excessive force and overwhelming intrusion of government -- on all levels; local, state and national -- into our private lives. They have no problem with illegal searches and seizures taking place in the name of security at airports. They have no problem with the same violation of inherent human rights via stop-and-frisk on city streets, nor do they see anything wrong with unlawful detainment at so-called "sobriety checkpoints" or "immigration checkpoints" along our nation's highways. A SWAT team executing a faulty search warrant for $50 worth of meth ends up horribly disfiguring an innocent baby -- over which there is a federal investigation -- and the county in question is refusing to pay the medical bills on the basis of vague legal reasons for which they offered zero explanation? Perfectly okay with these people. After all, it's all in the name of protecting the community.
In other words, Sheeple are like the two-year-old who doesn't want their picture taken, so they put their hands over their eyes, because if they can't see the camera, then obviously, the camera can't see them. They refuse to acknowledge reality, because if they don't acknowledge what's happening all around them, it won't affect them... right? Right?
- The Rationalizers
These are the ones who may acknowledge that there are bad things happening and that people are understandably upset. But in their minds, there is no police state, and the overwhelming majority of police forces -- from the top down -- are made up of good cops who just want to serve their community. To Rationalizers, every questionable police action must have had some kind of justification, even if the officer in question is at fault, because police officers, to the Rationalizer's way of thinking, don't just beat and kill people for frivolous reasons. When presented with the evidence that police officers today are woefully unqualified, inadequately trained and that the problem is systemic, intended to result in the outcome we're all seeing play out right in front of our very eyes, they shut down. They refuse to hear it. Corruption isn't a matter of concern, because there are those good cops there to balance it all out... even though they're overwhelmingly outnumbered. And if, in a rare case, a Rationalizer acknowledges that disturbing ratio, they'll argue that the good cops' uncorrupted ways serve as an example to others, and maybe, just maybe, with a little hoping, dreaming and wishing upon a star, that'll fix things.
What's more, Rationalizers do not accept the fact that those who do not stand against evil are complicit in it. Now, granted, in reality, there is the very real risk that an officer who attempts to speak out against -- or even refuses to participate in -- the corruption will be targeted, their career put in jeopardy and their family put at risk. But is it realistic, rational or logical to believe that absolutely zero cops are in a position and are willing to take a stand? Of course not. So where are these good cops? Why do we not hear from them? Why do we not see change being effected from within by these supposed good cops who feel safe and secure enough in their position to tackle the issue? If the problem is truly not systemic, as The Rationalizers argue; if the problem really isn't as bad as it's being made out to be, the American law enforcement community should be bursting at the seams with these supposed good cops. That clearly is not the case. But don't tell that to The Rationalizers. The cognitive dissonance it invokes in their brains will make their heads explode.
Not coincidentally (because coincidence doesn't exist), the Fraternal Order of Police tends to fall under this category, which is evidenced in this case by the fact that one of their lawyers is representing Darren Wilson.
- The Aware
These are the ones who see what's going on and acknowledge it for what it is: a wholesale shift in the task of policing from investigating crime and punishing those who actually commit it... to criminalizing all people in the false name of "protection" under the pretense of preventing crime, a feat which is literally impossible to accomplish, and is exactly what makes this a police state. It isn't just the militarization of local police, nor is it strictly on a local level. This includes the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and many other federal, state, secondary and municipal agencies that have been given free reign to enforce whatever edicts that they pass down -- regardless of legality -- with unconstitutional methods, violence, and even lethal force, with no accountability required whatsoever. The Aware understand that the old maxim, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," isn't actually the case, but that power attracts the power-hungry and corrupt. This is true in politics, it's true in social settings, and it's true in law enforcement.
The Aware also understand that the entire setup is intentional; that there are those with certain political and social agendas who use the power-hungry ambitions of the violent and corrupt -- along with the willful ignorance of the Sheeple and the denial of the Rationatlizers -- to bring about situations in this world which allow them to step in and say, "see? It's all gone to Hell in a handbasket. My ideas will fix it all." Of course, the Aware know that those ideas will only continue the madness (because those ideas originated the madness), but they know just as well as the purveyors of those ideas do that the masses will buy what they're being sold. It's an emotional sales pitch, one with very few truths, very many lies, and no honest intentions behind it at all. And through either ignorance -- intentional or otherwise -- or just plain beaten, broken-down spirits and the hope that something, anything, will be better than what's going on now, the majority of people will take the bait, hook, line and sinker.
Thankfully, this category is the fastest-growing at the moment. More and more people are waking up.
Now before you jump all over that last bit and scream, "IT'S THOSE DAMN DEMOCRATS!" or "I HATE REPUBLICANS!" or "CONSERVATIVE HYPOCRITES!" or "COMMIE SOCIALIST SCUM!"... YOU'RE WRONG. BOTH major political parties do it. Several of the minor political parties do, as well. Do you know why?
That's right: power attracts the corrupt. And what is politics if not a forum in which to gain power?
But what does a St. Louis suburb have to do with all of this? I mean, yeah, things really aren't looking good for the FPD right now. Autopsy evidence seems to confirm the numerous eyewitness accounts, which themselves directly contradict the "official" police story of what happened with and to Michael Brown. And that release of the security footage allegedly showing Brown robbing a store? Classic distraction tactic meant to taint public opinion against Brown, even despite the fact that FPD Chief Thomas Jackson admitted himself that the robbery and the shooting are not at all related. And sure, "Ferguson's Finest!" don't exactly have a sterling reputation. But does all of this add up to the focal point for some sort of revolution against the police state?
The answer depends on many factors, none of which I can truthfully say will absolutely play out one way or another. I can tell you what I'd like to see. I can tell you what I like and do not like about what I'm seeing now. But can I definitively state that this is the situation over which the entire country will rise up and put an end to a growing, very real oppression? No.
What I can tell you is that this is the tipping point. We can go one of two ways. We will either take what's going on in Ferguson -- not to mention the recent police killing of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, the recent police beating and killing of Omar Abrego, also in Los Angeles (in the same neighborhood, at that), the mere probation sentence for a former cop who raped at least two women and possibly a third while on duty, the false arrest and imprisonment of Shannon Renee McNeal, and even such a trivial-seeming thing as the recent arrest of Danielle Wolf on the basis of hearsay for daring to utter the word "fuck" in public -- as causes for serious concern and deeper attention toward the situation, and begin working to remove the people from power who would use it against us and dismantle the institutions that they use to do so.
Or... we will continue to ignore our situation and allow the growing police state to grow even further out of control, into an unstoppable culture of tyranny and oppression which no existing political entity will ever fully put an end to.
At the risk of coming off blithely, there's a highly appropriate quote to apply here from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
You must choose, but choose wisely. For as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.
The metaphorical Holy Grail we're seeking today is a solution that will bring peace, safe communities, and an end to the intentional -- and even unintentional -- infringements upon our inherent human rights, especially those enshrined in the Constitution's first ten amendments. Only one solution will actually work. All the others will destroy us.
So the question this comes down to is: do we choose the flashy, jewel-encrusted solution, which is certain to damn us for all eternity, or do we look for "the cup of a carpenter?"