A few years back, at a rally to stop the war in Iraq, I noticed something quite unnerving. In addition to the usual black clad riot police, police buses and helicopters, there was a separate group of men dressed in military fatigues taking pictures of the demonstration. Surveillance of protests and demonstrations isn’t anything new – there have been G-Men watching dissenters for well over 50 years. The unnerving part about this instance was the overtness. Fueled by the PATRIOT Act and an overwhelming sense of loyalty to the sitting president (Bush), law enforcement agencies across the country1 did their best to “protect America” by stamping an iron boot on the neck of dissent.
The tables turned slightly recently as conservatives jumped at the chance to say that the Obama administration is hard at work setting up FEMA camps for returning veterans and gun enthusiasts. From the conservative world view, anyone who’s not on the right is a co-conspirator ready to round up all the good white Christians, force them to hand over their money and guns to G-Men and make them dance around a May pole.
Maybe that’s a little hyperbolic, but conservatives all around high-fived every time those same treehuggers got a face full of tear gas at demonstrations only a few years ago. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Image courtesy http://dailybayonet.blogs.com
Yep, somehow these guys are going to take your AR-15
The Department of Homeland Security along with the FBI, CIA, US Military, NSA and whatever other letters we can put together to stand for “government” aren’t just interested in right or left. They don’t care too much if you’re waving a black flag or a swastika. The Mulders and Scullys of the world care about maintaining the status quo. Job number one is to protect the seats of the powerful – after all, a G-Man’s paycheck comes from those seats.
The Washington Times published a DHS report that (even though a spokeswoman said it wasn’t in operational use) highlights where the real paranoia lies – in the government towards its people. The report is a “reference aid” called the “Domestic Extremism Lexicon”. After reading through it, I was somewhat surprised to learn that its authors believe me to be an extremist. Writing in this blog, for example, is classifiable as extremism. “Alternative Media: A term used to describe various information sources that provide a forum for interpretations of events and issues that differ radically from those presented in mass media products and outlets.” Direct action? You better believe that’s extremist behavior: “Lawful or unlawful acts of civil disobedience ranging from protests to property destruction or acts of violence. This term is most often used by single-issue or anarchist extremists to describe their activities.”
Do you believe in “causes such as environmentalism, opposition to war, and the rights of animals?” You’re a left wing extremist. Do you take issue with things “such as paying taxes, possessing a driver’s license and motor vehicle registration, or holding a social security number?” You’re an extremist, specifically part of the sovereign citizen’s movement. I’m guessing the only thing that doesn’t land a giant scarlet E on your government file is having a giant “everything is peachy” tattoo on your forehead. Then again, people with tattoos are always suspect.
I suppose I should consider giving the folks at DHS a call. After all, the report closes by saying “DHS encourages recipients of this document to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to DHS and the FBI.” If you’re a good American, you’ll do your part and turn yourself in too.
Image courtesy http://boingboing.net/2009/03/26/remixes-of-the-paran.html
Okay so this is actually from Britan – but it sure sounds familiar doesn’t it?
1: with plenty of complacency from the media and support from conservatives
Aaron Cynic is a zine writer, internet radio host, blogger, musician, and project organizer from Chicago. He mainly publishes a zine called Diatribe, but has published a few other one shot zines. Aaron has also contributed to numerous other websites and publications. His radio show appears Sunday nights at 8pm on Punk and Beans Radio.