There’s a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, I find the things I don’t like about living in a nation that has long since ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom are beginning to outnumber the things I love.
Here’s what I don’t like about living in the American police state: I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy; especially in my own home.
[sharequote align="center"]I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.[/sharequote]
I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.
I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the Transportation Security Administration. I don’t like Visible Intermodal Protection and Response raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes. I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.
I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater. I don’t like the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely. I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.
I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security, which has become America’s standing army in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country. I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens. I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration, and Fish and Wildlife Service stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.
An air traveler places his shoes in a bin before passing through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security check at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on February 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK
I don’t like the fact that since President Barack Obama took office, police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”
I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for nonviolent crimes. There are over 3,000 people in America serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check. I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.
I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state. U.S. Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings; all without a warrant.
I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing, and critical thinking.
Photo Credit: Flickr.
I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose - whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras - is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.
I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.
I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90 percent occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for corporate America.
I don’t like feeling as if we’ve come full circle back to a pre-Revolutionary era.
[sharequote align="center"]I don’t like feeling as if we’ve come full circle back to a pre-Revolutionary era.[/sharequote]
I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us. I don’t like agencies like The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developing weapons for the battlefield that get used against Americans back at home. I don’t like the fact that drones will be deployed domestically in 2015, despite the fact that the government has yet to establish any civil liberties protocols to prevent them from being used against the citizenry.
Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.
Now, there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. And there are certainly those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores. However, I happen to come from a long line of people who believe in the virtue of hard work, perseverance, and the principle that nothing worthwhile comes without effort.
So I’m not giving up, at least not anytime soon. But I’m also not waiting around for the government to clean up its act. I’m not making any deals with politicians who care nothing about me and mine. To quote Number Six, the character in the British television series "The Prisoner:"
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!”
I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.
As I make clear in my book "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State," we’re at a crisis point in American history. If we don’t get up off our duffs and get involved in the fight for freedom, then up ahead the graveyard beckons. As Martin Luther King Jr. warned, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”
Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute and author of "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State." Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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