OPINION – Years ago, Joseph Sobran lampooned society’s tendency to hyper-focus on matters of sensitivity at the expense of everything else when he jokingly predicted that in 2020:
A national controversy will erupt when a porn film star, during a live White House performance, utters an ethnic slur.
While our collective attention is being redirected to which special interest group is suffering from the greatest lack of validation, we’re overlooking a number of serious developments that will affect all of us.
In light of many of these current trends, one can’t help but wonder where we’ll be in another 20 years.
The America that most of us grew up in is already almost unrecognizable. “Land of the free” is a nostalgic slogan compared to what we’ve become.
For instance, last week a much-hyped snow storm hit parts of New England. Authorities in New York City ordered a “lockdown” order and threatened to arrest ordinary citizens who attempted to travel. Of course, the sanctified personages who hold public office or work for government were excepted from this ban.
Despite the shrill insistence of modern Tories that official overreaction is motivated strictly out of concern for our “safety”, we should approach all authoritarian edicts with caution. It is our duty as free individuals to question anyone demanding our conformity.
Locking down an entire city and instructing residents to remain inside–or else–calls to mind the ridiculous overkill of the manhunt for a single suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago. Innocent people, who clearly were not the bombing suspect, were still accosted at gunpoint and frog-marched out of their homes by police.
Or when Aurora, Colorado police stopped dozens of motorists in traffic and then threatened all of them at gunpoint while searching for two alleged bank robbers. Men, women, and even children had no choice but to comply and no legal recourse for what was done to them.
The violation of innocent peoples’ rights was bad enough, but there is an even larger danger that accompanies such actions. When questionable actions like these are tolerated, they will eventually become accepted and normal in American society.
Welcome to the new normal.
Isolated incidents of authoritarianism tend to accrue into standard operating procedures while creeping into other areas of our lives.
Locking down an entire city may be an unusual event for now, but it’s a daily fact of life for millions of American schoolchildren.
There were prolonged howls of outrage last year when I compared a few of the commonalities between prisons and schools. Nonetheless, strict punishment of even minor infractions under “zero tolerance” guidelines, school-wide lockdown drills, surveillance cameras, random searches, active shooter drills, drug-sniffing dogs, and a highly visible police presence remain the norm in American schools.
Children are being placed in handcuffs, in confinement, tasered, and otherwise restrained to bring them “under control” in a school setting.
John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute explains how this lays the foundation for future problems:
How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?
We are rapidly approaching the point where the only freedoms we are still allowed to exercise are more or less by default. But with the growing surveillance state’s ability to monitor our every electronic communication, our finances, our travel patterns, and even our healthcare, our remaining freedom is shrinking.
A large number of good Americans have been successfully conditioned not just to be submissive and deferential to government authority but to actively worship it. The deeds of anyone who wears a uniform in official government service cannot be questioned.
To be in the uniformed service of the state is to be a hero. To question what is being done by anyone in uniform is unpatriotic, ungrateful; dare we say–un-American. We’re not the first civilized people to be conned into authoritarianism.
The parallels between us and 1930s Germany are getting harder to deny. Milton Mayer’s book “They Thought They Were Free – The Germans 1933-1945” explains why.
So what are we to do?
The hardest battle to be won at this moment is a mental one. It begins with the recognition that proper government is instituted to protect our rights not to manipulate our lives.
The crisis we face is the same in principle as the one faced by our nation’s founders. We possess the same moral truth that they did.
We just need their uncompromising will to stand for it.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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