“If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.” How does that old saw sound now, folks, in light of so-called law enforcement activities at the southern border? If people come to you for help, throw them into camps. Try to make them give up. Make their children suffer. If necessary, starve them until they have no energy to live.
Fact is, police rejoinders never justify treatment or policies of the type we have seen. Law enforcement pulls out these sayings whenever they are caught doing something they cannot justify any other way. Now, surveillance and cruelty have become so brazen, feds do not even bother with old saws. They just do what they deem necessary.
ICE responds to requests for comment exactly the same way a spy agency like the CIA responds: “Due to law-enforcement sensitivities, ICE will not comment on investigative techniques, tactics or tools.” The CIA spokespeople say they will not comment on intelligence methods or sources. Police agencies, whose members see themselves, equip themselves, and train themselves as military shock troops, say they will not comment on tactics or tools.
The feds believe they have found their magic bullet in immigration policy. They think this field of enforcement is exactly what they need to develop a police state. Feelings among citizens run high, Congress has left a policy vacuum, victims are helpless, with no way to protect themselves. Moreover, the president and his immigration advisors back cruelty and maximum punishment to the hilt. No one knows how to stop the troops. The feds clearly want to test how far they can go. You often find yourself asking, “What’s next?”
At some point along this sorry road, federal agencies may find they have overreached. Why? Because they see their moral authority collapse. The weaker their authority, the more potent is resistance to their lawlessness. We have seen these things happen already, with Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden as notable examples. No one has to tell you that Chelsea Manning is a political prisoner, or that Edward Snowden is a political exile. No one has to tell you the impact of their resistance, both here and around the globe.
Presently, no one need tell you the nature of the camps at the southern border. If the feds imprison people on those grounds, and with those results, what is next? Why would one obey agencies – or other arms of the same government – if they practice classic methods of suppression, intimidation, and cruelty? People asked the same question when U. S. soldiers massacred Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in March 1968. What kind of moral authority does the government have, after a war crime like that? Similarly, what authority does government have, to command respect or obedience, after it sets up prison camps on our own soil?
The number of people who regard our government as a criminal organization is growing. When Communists, National Socialists, or any other band of political criminals manage to take control of their nation’s state apparatus, including the army, we say, “Look what happens when you allow people like that to have power.” In the United States, organizations like ICE, CBP, and FBI held police power first, then became criminal. As their power grows, so do their habits of cruelty.
Their insane violations of our constitution show the nature of the transition underway. If you want to perceive what happens in countries that undergo similar transformations – from freedom to fear and autocracy – reread essays like this one in 2150 or so. Compare the state of our republic in 2000, a year before 9/11, with states of affairs in 2150. You will see how far a nation can travel toward totalitarian conditions in a century and a half. If our constitution still exists, it will have no connection with reality.
I can say that with confidence, because it already has no effect on the way our government behaves. Government agencies observe virtually none of the principles or constraints spelled out in the Constitution. That is why I call our government a criminal organization. It violates fundamental law, intended to lend it legitimacy. Government exercises legal, and moral authority only if it observes these limitations. When it operates outside the law, it exercises power with malice. That defines criminal activity.