Recently, a report from within the state government in Missouri, USA “suggested” that people with conservative and libertarian leanings might be “militia influenced terrorists”–
Reminiscent of when the Clinton administration in the 1990s stepped up efforts to portray those within the freedom movement as being “ideational conspirators” whose beliefs could be on par with foreign terrorists and/or potential domestic criminals, the Missouri Information Analysis Center is a newer initiative that seems to harbor the same assumptions but lists names in such a way that it opens itself up to potential charges of libel and slander.
Former Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin—a Christian pastor and writer who himself is implicated in the MIAC’s special report as representing a “threat” to law enforcement—wrote the following:
“Thanks to a concerned Missouri state policeman, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host stated that he was alerted . . . to a secret Missouri state police report that categorized supporters of Congressman Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and myself as ‘militia influenced terrorists.’”
The report, Baldwin continued, “instructs the Missouri police to be on the lookout for supporters displaying bumper stickers and other paraphernalia associated with the Constitutional, Campaign for Liberty, and Libertarian parties.”
Normally such news items are confined to so-called conspiracy theory websites, and even this seems to have emerged from one such source, but is 100% genuine. After it generated a huge controversy, the report has now been withdrawn–
The report, prepared by the state’s Information Analysis Center, was sent to police departments around the state. Public Safety Director John Britt said the intelligence report, was intended to “identify certain traits that are sometimes shared by members of militia groups.”
But it generated controversy when a copy of the report was leaked publicly.
Page 7 of the report said “militia members most commonly associate with third party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr.”
In a letter of apology to the former candidates, Britt wrote that “portions of that report may be easily misconstrued by readers as offensive to supporters of certain political candidates or to those candidates themselves. I regret that those components were ultimately included in the final report.”
“This report was too easily misinterpreted as suggesting that militia members may be identified by no other indicator than support for a particular candidates or political organization,” Britt said. “This is an undesired and unwarranted outcome.”
Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder called Wednesday for Britt to be put on immediate administrative leave while the report is investigated. He supported calls for the director to be subpoenaed by the Missouri legislature to answer questions about it.
Such “gaffes” by government are not surprising at all because the “establishment” – the political parties that play musical chairs with power, the bureaucracy etc – are too invested in the present system to allow it to unravel. And such incidents are neither new nor are they confined to America. When Thoreau lamented about the obstinacy of the State–
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?
One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offence never contemplated by government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings (the amount Thoreau refused to pay as poll tax) for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth – certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
he was providing reasons as to why a government cannot tolerate dissent. That is why George Washington and Benjamin Franklin became “rebels” (modern day terrorists) when the colonists challenged the English monarch. And that is why Bhagat Singh was a terrorist. Anyone who opposes the establishment is thus a terrorist. And so the statement “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” is very much true.
Indulging in generalizations would be a huge mistake though. That is, a campaigner for individual rights in a despotic country and a campaigner for environmental or anti-capitalistic causes in a society that doesn’t support their view points are dissenters, but dissent cannot be looked at in a context-less manner – its not just a case of “anti”. An individualist or a tax protester is a dissenter; an environmentalist who advocates and takes part in the ransacking of animal testing laboratories or vandalism of coal-based power plants is a hooligan. Even in case of violence, the nature of the violence – defensive vs. aggressive determines its origins – dissent vs. hooliganism/ terrorism (note the sequence in both the “vs.”). Rights do matter.
I have been thinking about this for a while, but the immediate provocation behind the post is an article Sauvik linked to this morning-
There is a secession movement afoot and its proponents are determined to put a halt to the federal government’s ambitions to destroy and reconstruct an entire economy and dissolve the last remnants of individual liberty. Twenty-eight states are invoking the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution, by rolling out legislation to assert their sovereignty as free states in order to keep from being undermined by the never-ending swarm of unrestrained federal decrees.
The speed with which the federal government intends to take over private institutions and usurp states’ rights and individual autonomy is unprecedented. When the Bush-Obama regime maneuvers are compared to the Hoover-FDR New Deal era, it looks like today’s hare vs. yesterday’s turtle. The state’s various propaganda arms, from big media to institutionalized special interest forces, are being empowered to publicize and sell the agenda of the totalitarian state by painting it in glossy colors that warm the hearts of unresisting Americans. There are, however, growing pockets of dissenters who conclude that life, liberty, property, and the futures of their children are more important than the trivial things that occupy the minds of the submissive class. For that reason, the state’s militarized police force, which has been given unparalleled powers by the contrived crises following 9-11, has snowballed in size and is being fortified in expectation of confronting rebellion from those citizens who intend to resist the tyranny of an over-reaching Leviathan.
Since the Bush II regime took control and 9/11 became its launch pad for sweeping hegemony, the police state has moved more swiftly than ever to demonize resistance and criminalize dissent. The most recent example is the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report that profiled individuals according to their political convictions, especially those ideas that agitate against the institutionalization of unconstitutional acts that are intended to grow state power at the expense of individual liberties. Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr (!), guns & ammo, taxes, the Federal Reserve, secession, and resistance to universal government service or anti-privacy actions – all of those topics have become keywords in the crusade to criminalize individuals who refuse to be rounded up like cattle and marched toward serfdom.
Two years ago, a similar thing happened in Alabama when its Homeland Security Department released a report pigeonholing freedom activists as “anti-government types” who “claim that the U.S. government is infringing on their individual rights, and/or that the government’s policies are criminal and immoral.” Such groups, the report said, “May hold that the current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution…” Don’t bother to look up that report, however, because LewRockwell.com blogger Chris Brunner’s post on the Alabama report spread like wildfire ’round the Internet, resulting in that report being pulled from the website.
Anyone screaming “conspiracy theory” should take a deep breath, look out of the window and – I am not very good with English idioms – what’s that, smell the coffee?
The problem is that too many people in this world have no clue about politics. Oh they can hold discussions on political parties, corruption and all that, but they don’t understand how a government becomes a legitimate one, what is the role of the constitution, what are “rules” and what are “laws” and so on. The generation that takes part in a freedom struggle/ revolution is aware of the efforts it put in, and appreciates freedom. That’s why constitutions are debated for years, though they may not end up protecting rights, as the Indian constitution proves. But after that, its simply a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Schools don’t teach politics – they teach “civics” (from the Wikipedia – “Civics refers not to the ethical or moral or political basis by which a ruler acquires power, but only to the processes and procedures they follow in actually exercising it”). Critical thinking is not encouraged, neither is initiative. And a golden opportunity is lost. Once they enter the workforce, most people neither have the time nor the inclination to think or write about principles and ideologies. Its always the irrelevant but glamorous details that intrigue them, not principles – elections, not the meaning of republic; budgets, not the legitimacy of taxation, subsidies, not individual rights. The lucky few who get to make a career out of thinking in principles – the “intellectuals” – commit treason. They sell the State, not liberty, pragmatism, not principles, to the people.
No wonder people accept every restriction put on them in the name of “national interest” or “national security.” Unlike the frog in Al Gore’s sci-fi film on climate change, no one will lift them out of the boiling water. They have to do it themselves.
Another article from LewRockwell.com–
Leaving aside the matter of which agency would run detention centers in the increasingly likely event of full-scale martial law, we’re left with a perfectly reasonable question: Why shouldn’t we view the State’s armed enforcers as “the Enemy”?
The typical conduct of police during confrontations with civilians bears eloquent testimony of the fact that they are indoctrinated to treat us as the enemy, and to be prepared to disarm us when given the opportunity – for their own safety, of course. Why else would police ask motorists if they were armed, or confiscate video and audio recording equipment from witnesses whenever police are involved in potentially controversial episodes of official violence?
The import of the Missouri MIAC report was to prime state law enforcement agents to perceive as potential terrorists anybody who displayed any of the political sentiments listed therein. Thus bumper stickers announcing support for Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin would be regarded as warning signs, as would the advertisement of hostility toward the FBI, ATF, IRS, UN, or Federal Reserve. None of this is new.
During a presentation on “Criminal Justice and Right-Wing Extremism in America,” John J. Nutter of the Ohio-based Conflict Analysis Group described that political persuasion as a “lightning rod for the mentally disturbed” and warned the 500 law enforcement personnel in attendance to be wary of those displaying the symptoms of such alleged derangement.
The Soviets were masters at classifying dissent as “mental illness.” They sent hordes of dissenters to gulags where they died through overwork, starvation and cold. But some were sent to state run psychiatric hospitals and were systematically driven mad. Involuntary commitment is also possible through bribes. From a 20 year old TIME article–
One of the most chilling by-products of the Kremlin’s aversion to protest has been its use of the Soviet mental-health-care system as an instrument for suppressing dissent. An untold number of dissidents have been clapped into mental hospitals and sometimes kept under control with mind-numbing drugs. , Now, under Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, or openness, Soviet psychiatric practices are finally getting what could prove to be a cathartic airing. Amid demands for reform, the Soviet press has begun printing stories of abuse, corruption and incompetence within the psychiatric establishment. On the political front, Western analysts note that since last spring, the government has released some two dozen dissidents who had been held in psychiatric institutions.
And a NYT report from the same period-
Signs of Soviet dissatisfaction with Soviet psychiatry have recently appeared in the press. An unusual series of articles in two periodicals, Sotsialisticheskaya Industriya and Meditsinskaya Gazeta, detailed charges that doctors at several psychiatric institutes declared defendants in criminal cases mentally ill in exchange for bribes.
The articles did not mention the use of psychiatry to suppress dissent. But Mr. Reddaway said some of the institutes and officials named have played a significant role in declaring political dissidents mentally ill.
In an article in July Izvestia, the Government newspaper, detailed two reported cases in which doctors arbitrarily declared ordinary people mentally ill.
In one case, a woman harried officials to intervene in a dispute with her neighbors, to get treatment for her alcoholic brother, and to secure better living conditions. A police official said: ”She writes and writes. It’s clear she’s not normal.” After police took the woman for a psychiatric examination, the doctor signed a commitment order.
The paper pointed out that three years ago, the Soviet Ministry of Health included a new category: ”persons who disorganize the work of institutions with numerous letters of absurd content.”
This Wikipedia article has more details. And if reports are to be believed, the practice has returned in Putin’s Russia.
This Signs of the Times article says efforts are on to declare climate change skepticism as a mental illness-
The idea that ‘climate change denial’ is a psychological disorder – the product of a spiteful, willful or simply in-built neural inability to face up to the catastrophe of global warming – is becoming more and more popular amongst green-leaning activists and academics. And nothing better sums up the elitism and authoritarianism of the environmentalist lobby than its psychologisation of dissent. The labeling of any criticism of the politics of global warming, first as ‘denial’, and now as evidence of mass psychological instability, is an attempt to write off all critics and sceptics as deranged, and to lay the ground for inevitable authoritarian solutions to the problem of climate change. Historically, only the most illiberal and misanthropic regimes have treated disagreement and debate as signs of mental ill-health.
This weekend, the University of West England is hosting a major conference on climate change denial. Strikingly, it’s being organised by the university’s Centre for Psycho-Social Studies. It will be a gathering of those from the top of society – ‘psychotherapists, social researchers, climate change activists, eco-psychologists’ – who will analyse those at the bottom of society, as if we were so many flitting, irrational amoeba under an eco-microscope. The organisers say the conference will explore how ‘denial’ is a product of both ‘addiction and consumption’ and is the ‘consequence of living in a perverse culture which encourages collusion, complacency and irresponsibility’ (1). It is a testament to the dumbed-down, debate-phobic nature of the modern academy that a conference is being held not to explore ideas – to interrogate, analyse and fight over them – but to tag them as perverse.
Murray Rothbard covers “compulsory commitment” in his books. In “For a New Liberty,” he writes–
One of the most shameful areas of involuntary servitude in our society is the widespread practice of compulsory commitment, or involuntary hospitalization, of mental patients. In former generations this incarceration of noncriminals was frankly carried out as a measure against mental patients, to remove them from society. The practice of twentieth-century liberalism has been superficially more humane, but actually far more insidious: now physicians and psychiatrists help incarcerate these unfortunates “for their own good.” The humanitarian rhetoric has permitted a far more widespread use of the practice and, for one thing, has allowed disgruntled relatives to put away their loved ones without suffering a guilty conscience.
In the last decade, the libertarian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr. Thomas S. Szasz has carried on a one-man crusade, at first seemingly hopeless but now increasingly influential in the psychiatric field, against compulsory commitment. In numerous books and articles, Dr. Szasz has delivered a comprehensive and systematic attack on this practice. He has insisted, for example, that involuntary commitment is a profound violation of medical ethics. Instead of serving the patient, the physician [p. 91] here serves others — the family, the State — to act against, and tyrannize over completely, the person he is supposed to be helping. Compulsory commitment and compulsory “therapy,” moreover, are far more likely to aggravate and perpetuate “mental illness” than to cure it. All too often, Szasz points out, commitment is a device for incarcerating and thereby disposing of disagreeable relatives rather than a genuine aid to the patient.
The guiding rationale for compulsory commitment is that the patient might well be “dangerous to himself or to others.” The first grave flaw in this approach is that the police, or the law, is stepping in, not when an overt aggressive act is in the process of occurring, but on someone’s judgment that such an act might someday take place. But this provides an open sesame for unlimited tyranny. Anyone might be adjudged to be capable of or likely to commit a crime someday, and therefore on such grounds anyone may legitimately be locked up — not for a crime, but because someone thinks he might commit one. This sort of thinking justifies not only incarceration, but permanent incarceration, of anyone under suspicion. But the fundamental libertarian creed holds that every individual is capable of free will and free choice; that no one, however likely to commit a crime in the future based on a statistical or any other judgment, is inevitably determined to do so; and that, in any case, it is immoral, and itself invasive and criminal, to coerce anyone who is not an overt and present, rather than a suspected, criminal.
In “The Ethics of Liberty,” he quotes C.S.Lewis and writes–
Never has the tyranny and gross injustice of the “humanitarian” theory of punishment-as-reform been revealed in more scintillating fashion than by C.S. Lewis. Noting that the “reformers” call their proposed actions “healing” or “therapy” rather than “punishment,” Lewis adds:
But do not let us be deceived by a name. To be taken without consent from my home and friends; to lose my liberty; to undergo all those assaults on my personality which modern psychotherapy knows how to deliver . . . to know that this process will never end until either my captors have succeeded or I grown wise enough to cheat them with apparent success—who cares whether this is called Punishment or not? That it includes most of the elements for which any punishment is feared—shame, exile, bondage, and years eaten by the locust-is obvious. Only enormous ill-desert could justify it; but ill-desert is the very conception which the Humanitarian theory has thrown overboard.
Lewis goes on to demonstrate the particularly harsh tyranny that is likely to be levied by “humanitarians” out to inflict their “reforms” and “cures” on the populace:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we “ought to have known better,” is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.
Furthermore, Lewis points out, the rulers can use the concept of “disease” as a means for terming any actions that they dislike as “crimes” and then to inflict a totalitarian rule in the name of Therapy.
For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call “disease” can be treated as crime; and compulsorily cured. It will be vain to plead that states of mind which displease government need not always involve moral turpitude and do not therefore always deserve forfeiture of liberty. For our masters will not be using concepts of Desert and Punishment but those of disease and cure. . . . It will not be persecution. Even if the treatment is painful, even if it is life-long, even if it is fatal, that will be only a regrettable accident; the intention was purely therapeutic. Even in ordinary medicine there were painful operations and fatal operations; so in this. But because they are “treatment,” not punishment, they can be criticized only by fellow-experts and on technical grounds, never by men as men and on grounds of justice.
So if belief in freedom, libertarianism, the constitution, and showing skepticism towards human-induced climate change is one day termed as mental illness, we can all expect to find ourselves committed to the nearest mad house till we are “cured” of our “illness.”
I think this is getting too dark even for a cynic like me, but a few more points before I wrap up. The other day, I wrote the following regarding Naomi Wolf-
[Wolf] thought that fascism would creep into America from the right, and given Bush’s track record, few would deny the fear. But what must not be forgotten is this – it can just as easily come in from the left; the right does not hold a patent on fascism.
If you read her “10 steps” to “close down an open society,” the left is just as capable of initiating them as the right. I think she realizes that, but more needs to happen on that front.
I have written about incidents like these many times before – anti-terror laws are being misused wholesale in Britain. The government is using it to track whether newspaper vendors employ delivery men having permits, people with noisy wardrobes etc etc etc. A former chief of the country’s internal security service – MI5 – fears the country is turning into a police state–
DAME Stella Rimington, the former MI5 chief, last night claimed the government had exploited people’s fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties.
She said ministers risked handing a victory to terrorists by making people “live in fear and under a police state”.
Dame Stella, who stood down as the Security Service’s director-general in 1996, also accused the United States, claiming the Guantanamo Bay camp and allegations of torture had been a recruiting sergeant for extremists.
Her comments came as a report by a panel of leading judges and lawyers said measures to tackle terrorism have undermined international human rights laws.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Dame Stella said: “Since I have retired, I feel more at liberty to be against certain decisions of the government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people’s privacy.”
She added: “It would be better that the government recognised there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, (which is] precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state.”
And I don’t think Australia and its dangerous countrywide firewall to block material that is against the “law” needs to be talked about, again.
I am not too optimistic about the future of the world. If things go on as they are now, in another decade or so, most western countries will in all probability drop all the pretense about democracy and become full fledged fascist states. I don’t know what fate will befall India.