The world seems to be doing its damnedest to implode right now. I know I’m not the only one who’s seeing it. It’s been a rough two weeks for humanity at large–losing Robin Williams, everything happening overseas (Russia, Iraq, Ukraine), the numerous lost planes we’ve seen, and now, Ferguson. Many people have posted many things about the situation happening in the middle of our country, but I, too have thoughts I need to express about it. And the biggest overall feeling I have towards that situation right now is that we as Americans are overlooking the MUCH bigger picture here.
Firstly, I’m going to state that I am by no means a journalist, by no means a person whose opinion counts for much more than any of the millions of voices on twitter. I have intentionally avoided following the unfolding situation there closely because there’s not much room in my life for more disturbing things. Plus, I think the media is primarily focused on the one topic that our country can’t seem to let go–racism. I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of racism as a topic by any means; it exists, it’s active in our everyday, and it’s a horrible thing. No one is arguing that racism should be accepted and tolerated, we’re all basically on the same side of that issue: racism is bad. Case closed. Yes, we need to work towards acceptance and understanding of one another, but there’s not major opposing force trying to promote racism in our society. Instead of focusing on how racism is playing a role in what’s unfolding in Ferguson, we need to focus on the capabilities that our own government has demonstrated: oppressing the very same people it’s SUPPOSED to be protecting.
Before I keep going, I think this post and John Oliver summarize a part of my thoughts pretty well. Read. Watch. I’ll wait.
Okay, deep breath, I’m about to rant. WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!
Our government is far FAR more powerful and far-reaching that we know. Even moreso than we currently know. Since 9/11, our public servicemen in the police department have secretly been becoming militarized. Buying ‘old’ (read: probably gently used, less-than-a-year old) military vehicles and equipment from our federal government at very low cost. Why would they do this? Well, because they can, dammit! And because then our military can continue investing tax dollars into new equipment and new shiny toys, and no citizen is the wiser. And didn’t you know that terrorism can happen anywhere without a moment’s notice?! Our local police totally have to be ready for that! Right?! If our local police departments are mini-militia, then what is our actual militia for?
Before I start to sound like I’m hating on all police officers, I know there are good men in uniform. I know that in every group of responsible, passionate people, it only takes a few of them to ruin the public’s perception of their good work. That’s the case for religious groups, races, otherwise peaceful protesters (eg MOST of those protesting in Ferguson), and government figures. But we’re humans, we’re not designed to focus on those who are doing their jobs, laying low, and doing good; we’re designed to focus on the outliers, the negative, the out-of-place troublemakers. However, it has to be said that evidence of police using unnecessary force has become a growing topic, concern, and occurrence. As shown in John Oliver’s video, even house searches with warrants look like something out of a horror movie with terrorist investigations. Police are no longer trained to see citizens as equals, as people who are generally trying to live their lives in a peaceful, positive manner, they’re trained to see citizens as threats. Police are trained to enforce our governmentally propagated rules upon the people, and the rules are no longer in place to protect us–they’re to subdue us. The closer a person becomes to the government, in general, it seems, the less that person sees themself as a citizen who must abide by the laws they create or enforce.
An aside: As I was running and trying to exhaust my frustration of the ongoing events at the gym last night, Fox News showed something about one of the men in the protests having a gun. Obviously the national guard immediately saw him as a threat. So let’s take a look at this–a single guy has a handgun, PROBABLY for self protection, while the military has tanks, bullet vests, automatic rifles, and THEY feel threatened? Obviously they could use the excuse of ‘he could hurt someone in the crowd’, but that’s not the real reason for their reaction–no one likes to have a gun pointed their direction! Force begets force begets force begets force. Escalating force is not the correct response, on either side. Anyone who feels threatened is GOING to act in a manner of defense. The police started this whole mess with their over-the-top response to peaceful protests…those protests are no longer about the death of a teenager, they’re about the oppression of peaceful citizens by their own government.
This is NOT a situation that is rare and exclusively possible in the small town of Ferguson, MO. If you think your local police force isn’t equally militarized, you’re fooling yourself. This situation is possible anywhere. And, I’d gamble that the protests going on in Ferguson right now are no longer about the [supposed or actual] racism that prompted the white cop to shoot Michael Brown. It’s about HOW the police and government reacted–by revealing military equipment and attempting to force a curfew on its citizens like they’re children outside past their bedtimes, and by attacking and arresting the journalists trying to cover what’s happening. Amnesty International was sent there, for Christ’s sake!! When has Amnesty International EVER sent a crew to an American city for civil unrest?! WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD.
Our government is growing bigger and more authoritative every day. We sit on our comfy couches and watch the news of all the terrible things happening overseas and we say to ourselves, “Those poor people, look at what their government is doing to them,” and sip on our beers and then go to our soft beds. We’re complacent, and severely in denial to believe that that situation isn’t possible here. Meanwhile, our government is distributing military equipment to local law enforcement like Oprah distributes new handbags–YOU get a tank, and YOU get a tank, YOU ALL GET TAAAAA-AAAAAAAANKS! Let’s not forget about the NSA:Our government reads our email, spies on everything we and every other country does online, picks through our luggage at airports, harvests our data, wants to control all of our healthcare, and we do nothing. People cannot and should not be dependent on the government, the government should be dependent on us. It’s “We the people” not “We the government”. The government is about order and control, and the more they claim what they’re doing is for ‘the greater good’ and remind us that we have ‘no need to worry if we’re doing nothing wrong’, the more power and control over our lives they claim. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer Americans claim to trust their government, and the government has taken note of that.
TL;DR: The police are meant to ‘serve and protect’, but they’re no longer serving and protecting the citizens, they’re serving and protecting the government as a totalitarian entity. The government’s ready for war…are we?
(aaaaaand now I’m sure I’m on some interesting NSA lists, but it’s okay, I was probably already put there by the thought police.)