Policemen shoot dogs and people with equal abandon. They don’t shoot horses because horses are docile, and they don’t shoot cats because cats are harder to hit. When a SWAT team attacks a house with weapons drawn, with no care for anyone’s safety but their own, what do they think is going to happen?
The surprise home invasion has unsurprising results: a pet dog dead on the floor, a baby terribly injured from a stun grenade tossed blindly into a room, an elderly man shot in his bed. What is a common mission for these home invasions? To serve a warrant ginned up for a drug search!
No one wants to say the dread word. Tyranny. No one wants to believe that state intimidation has become normal. What was once unimaginable is now justified as necessary. The right to be secure in our homes did not slip away gradually; it shattered with every broken window and gave way with every forced door. You say you didn’t see this kind of state violence coming? It’s here.
We used to have a conversation about politics that would start, “It can’t happen here.” A reasonable response to this statement would be, why not? Well, the conversation would go, we have a long constitutional tradition, founded on the Bill of Rights, that prevents tyranny here in America. That general observation was hard to contradict, because in fact we all saw the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, as a firm protector of our liberty. The first ten amendments established a legal barrier against government power that might become too strong.
That is not the case any longer. The signs and omens of tyranny are so strong, so blatant that we cannot overlook them. No one has a good reply now to the person who says, “Why not?” All we can say now is, “Why?” Why have we let this loss of liberty happen? Why has a national security state grown up right in front of us, and we appear unable to do anything about it? People who care about these questions begin to ask, “Can we redeem our freedom, and our security, without violence?”
For five years The Jeffersonian has maintained a consistent position about that question. The time when we can change course without violence is passing quickly. With war washing over one country after another abroad, the window for peaceful change here within our own borders has started to close. Murderous conflict spreads. We have to prepare ourselves to respond to it.
We see violence, and threatened violence, practiced by the police almost every day. The non-violent, resolute, and creative response of demonstrators in St. Louis, in response to Michael Brown’s execution on a Saturday afternoon in August, encourages all of us who care about peaceful resistance. That is why we must stand with them, recognize their courage, hope for success, and spread the example they set to other locales.