October 30, 2013

The War on Us

From American Catholic:
Increasingly  many Americans, most, but not all, conservative and/or religious, are being treated as enemies to be subdued by their own government.  Angelo M. Codevilla in a brilliant post at the Library of Liberty and Law faces the issue squarely:
Increasingly, the US government’s many police forces (often state and local ones as well) operate militarily and are trained to treat ordinary citizens as enemies. At the same time, the people from whom the government personnel take their cues routinely describe those who differ from them socially and politically as illegitimate, criminal, even terrorists. Though these developments have separate roots, the post-9/11 state of no-win war against anonymous enemies has given them momentum. The longer it goes on, the more they converge and set in motion a spiral of civil strife all too well known in history, a spiral ever more difficult to stop short of civil war. Even now ordinary Americans are liable to being disadvantaged, hurt or even killed by their government as never before.
It does seem like there's an unseemly aggressiveness of government at all levels. I'm amazed and disheartened by the militarization of non-military government entities and there's a new level of surveillance even at the most local of levels.

It seems a kind of sickness, this need for safety so pronounced that we spy our friendly leaders like Germany's Merkel. I think something in our national psyche went haywire after 9/11.

It's a ridiculously trivial example, but this past summer I headed to a local metro park (paid for with our tax dollars) for a little kayaking and snorkeling in the lake. There was a "no swimming" sign, of course, but I figured that was to cover themselves legally in the case of drowning. I was in a secluded area for just a few minutes, looking at some yellow fish and a fine-looking turtle the size of my palm. I was spotted by a couple park rangers who raced over like I was a four-alarm fire they intended to put out, and I expected a good chewing out. I was ready to take my verbal lumps.

"Were you swimming?"

"Yes, just a bit."

Then, instead of a warning they said, "have you got identification?"

This was unexpected. Identification for swimming? What kind of police state are we running here?

"Nope." I said.

"Meet us at your vehicle," one of them huffed.

I kayaked back to my vehicle and found the red carpet was all laid out for me. The flashing lights of the park ranger vehicle were on, another vehicle as well, and four rangers were there in case I attempted to flee after the dastardly crime of swimming in a lake.

The head ranger dude came up and demanded identification, which I had in my truck and produced.

After five minutes of running my record and examining my emails via the Park Ranger database's connectivity with the National Security Agency, I was free to go. (The latter a joke. I think.)

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