November 25, 2014—Last night’s events in Ferguson make me sad.
Pundits, policymakers and political hacks will slice and dice the grand jury decision and the government response in a million different ways. We can and should talk about injustice, race, the danger of an ever-growing police state and the many other issues raised by the events in Ferguson, Mo.
But sadly, today, the focus rests primarily on the violence.
Last night, you got a first-hand lesson on how to enable and advance a violent police state.
Play the game by its rules.
The rioters, looters and pillagers did nothing to better their circumstances. They did nothing to achieve justice. They did nothing to advance liberty. They merely pulled against the choke collars around their own necks and affirmed the need for government violence in the minds of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
America, with its “war on drugs” and “war on terror” continues to devolve into a militarized police/surveillance state. Anybody who objectively looks at the evidence can’t avoid this conclusion. This should concern every American because it stands as a direct threat against civil liberties and basic freedom. But when people respond to injustice (whether you want to argue that it’s real or perceived) with violence, it simply reinforces the “justifications” for the police/surveillance state and further entrenches it in society.
The comments of a friend of mine, who happens to be a cop, exemplifies just how the violence in Ferguson will ultimately serve as the catalyst for more militarization, more violations of civil liberties and more government violence in the name of keeping you “safe.”
Could it be that “Perception” became “Reality” and that America’s “war on drugs” and “war on terror” require a response, because by nature, THEY are violent first rather than WE are violent first? We have an obligation and it is still to protect… To say we are a “police state” first, merely puts the horse before the cart… The “perception” of a “police state” is a response to the “reality” of violence, whether it be “war on drugs,” “war on terror,” or now violence in Ferguson. The “police state” has a responsibility to respond…Anything less is irresponsible.
My friend makes my point.
Violence enables and advances the police state.
Those of you who love liberty need to reject the violence.
And those of you that nod in sympathetic agreement with my cop-friend need to pause, check your premises, and think long and hard about the ramifications of what you justify in the name of security and safety.
In truth, every tyranny starts with just these justifications.
And the justifications obscure the bigger issue – the danger of powerful, centralized government. At its core, that’s the heart of everything that is Ferguson.
The real question is why there is a “war on drugs” in the first place. The lucrative black market created by government prohibition paves the way for violence. Take away prohibition and we don’t need a militarized police force to “respond.” Even if you want to trot out all of the “we have to protect society from drugs” rhetoric, it still falls completely flat. After 40-some years of this dumb war, people are still doing drugs and we get all of the violence that comes with a black market to boot.
The same goes with the “war on terror.” Perhaps if the U.S. and other western powers quit trying to use military force to cast the world into its own image, other people would be less inclined commit terror acts.
The “war on drugs” on the “war on terror” both root themselves in the centralized state. They draw their power from the state, while at the same time empowering the state in a terrifying feedback loop.
Coercive force and violence fuel the centralized state.
The simple fact is that the centralized state has served as the biggest killing machine and greatest oppressor of minorities in human history. If you doubt me, just ask the Ukrainians who lived under the Soviets, the Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Jews in Nazi Germany, or the American Indians under the protective hands of the US federal government.
People always say, “Oh! That kind of thing will never happen here.” But I need only look back 75 years at the images of Japanese-Americans standing behind barbed-wire in Idaho. That was deemed “a responsible response” too.
Once a mechanism like the police/surveillance state exists, the average person has no control over how it gets used. Today, you may cheer it for protecting you.
But what about tomorrow?