Thursday, July 10, 2008

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Alternet carries a story today by Matthew Rothschild about local police, firemen, and paramedics being trained to report suspicious terroristy-type behavior to a secret federal database. “Bush’s Secret Army of Snoops and Snitches” (www.alternet.org/story/90829).

We’re moving ever more deeply into Nazi-land. The great surprise at the opening of Nazi and later – after the fall of the Wall – Stasi files, was that so many private citizens, so many folks not employed by the security police or – in that superb, multi-level Soviet citizens’ phrase – “the organs”, so many every-day, down-the-street folks, sent letters to the Gestapo denouncing this or that neighbor, this or that ex-lover, this or that rival for this or that desired honor or position.

But while the Stasi in East Germany were modeled after the Stalinist pattern – numerous officials tirelessly snooping and snitching – the Nazis were different. There really weren’t that many Gestapo agents in Germany, nor was there a bottomless supply of black-uniformed SS waiting in the basement garage of the local police station to come roaring out by the truckload at a moment’s notice.

But there were stupendous numbers of citizens busily writing letters – all carefully filed – informing on the relatives and neighbors and erstwhile friends. Nor were these citizens being paid to do it, nor had the Gestapo asked them to do it. They just did it. How neiss to be part of a wave, ja? How neiss to be able to maybe surf a wave to one’s own advantage, ja? How neiss to redeem the moral squalor of this Reich by wringing from it a little personal success, ja? How neiss to be patriotic and to get even at the same time, ja? Yah.

Now presently, in this Year of Grace 2008, anybody in this country can call the local police and have another person deprived of access to property and even of personal liberty simply by claiming that said person is in a domestic relationship with yourself and is being violent. The Dems deserve a swift thank in the butt for that. Any officer of the law can arrest you if he or she thinks you are a sex-offender or an unregistered sex-offender, and not be held responsible for … ummm, a mistake in that regard. Ditto the Dems.

The Bushist Ascendancy would like to ‘train’ police, fire, and medical personnel to ‘observe’ any suspicious behavior they might encounter in their daily work (gas and electric company folks, water department folks ditto). This is not a good development. Just what constitutes ‘suspicious’ and terroristy behavior could include stuff such as looking at something too long, taking photos or taking notes of … something (very much like the 19th century suspicion of Frenchmen sketching ‘bridges or fortifications’ in Germany or Germans doing the same in France, or anybody doing it in England; the Italians of the era blew up their own stuff and didn’t rely on ‘foreigners’ to get the job done).

But of course, what ‘science’ actually exists to reliably train people in the fine art of fingering (you should pardon the expression) sex-offenders? Not very much, really. Not that your local news will tell you that, but then they weren’t really up to speed on the science of WMD either. Oh well, doing something in a ‘good’ cause means never having to say you’re sorry. Although, the universe being what It is, you may well be held accountable anyway, somewhere down the road where Consequence and Karma are waiting in the tall grass. Patiently. Implacably. Professionally.

Now the cop on the beat (I’m dating myself; the cop with the shaved and polished head in the dark-windowed K-9 car with the dark glasses, the automatic weapons and the body armor) or the neighborhood firepersons on the truck dragging a tattered American flag tied to the exhaust pipe, or the paramedics and EMTs whom you need to re-start your heart, will be partially distracted by the need to ‘observe’.

So if you do have a photo of the USS Constitution or any other commissioned warship, or an aerial view of the U.S. Military Academy, or perhaps a metal casting (even if in miniature) of a cannon at Antietam or Gettysburg … you may want to drape a tasteful sheet over same before the boyos and girlies come in to do their heroic thing on you. And if you, dear citizen, are in possession of any sort of representation, photographic or by means of painting or glowing beads affixed to a velveteen background, of Custer’s Last Stand – you, unless being of provable Native American Ancestry and/or resident in and upon lands heretofore designated and acknowledged by the U.S. Government through any agency thereof so authorized as being ‘Indian Territory’ – you, sir or madam, I say, are in a heepa trubble.

Those so ‘trained’ to observe what is essentially unobservable will be designated a “Terrorism Liaison Officer”, which is nonsensical on its face since a Liaison official would create easier communication with ‘Terrorism’, and a) we don’t really want to be communicating with it and b) ‘it’ is not an entity with whom one might in any case communicate, being instead an abstraction. Surely, the unhappy performances of our generals on the Eastern Front should remind us that ‘abstractions’ cannot be ‘observed’ nor can they – ach! – be beaten in the field. Is there no communication between our domestic and foreign and military intelligence? But of course, that’s precisely how things have gotten to where they have, and why we are having this conversation at all.

Tell me, do you think that the Democratic Party as presently configured will dis-establish this program once in power? Or, having pretty much introduced so much Nazi and Stalinist praxis into our jurisprudence in the service of its Identities, do you suppose they’ll simply expand the observation menu to include … well, whatever it is that would keep the Identity-du-jour happy, at least for a while.

They’re going to laugh at Us, those generations yet to be born. If they’re still permitted to. And perhaps the only hope is, like Soviet citizens, they’ll find a way to crack wise about the government no matter how many of ‘the organs’ are snooping around.

But even so, like those Soviet citizens of yore, they won’t be able to change what’s already gone horribly, irretrievably bad.

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