Trump is not Hitler or Mussolini, but he is Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller, and that’s bad enough.
Apparently believing it will bolster his pro-police image, the Trump Administration has announced that it is reversing President Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the provision of certain U.S. military equipment to local American police forces.
Announcing the move on Monday to the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Nashville, Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused the former president of putting “superficial concerns above public safety” and cheered Trump’s decision, telling police that allowing cops to have military gear will send a message that “we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become the new normal.”
Far from superficial, the concerns surrounding local police forces being given weapons of war had longstanding and serious implications for American society. This was true particularly after the Global War on Terror fueled an increase in military spending that left even more surplus military goods to be doled out to the police.
Providing local police with bayonets and amphibious tanks has concerned civil rights groups since the program began back in 1997. This is primarily because to the extent police were ever asked to justify these acquisitions at all, they tended to present them as riot control gear to contend with civil unrest. With America in a state of constant warfare since 2001, this was not some idle excuse, but rather reflective of a broad change in mentality.
I disagree that it is crude to make a political point out of atrocities such as that in Paris yesterday. Bad politics causes these attacks and better politics can prevent them. Here are a few political points I’d like to make.
In the first place, most of us have imperfect information about the events of last night. I was flicking back and forth from Sky to BBC, who, in turn, were getting their most reliable information from BFM. Even as I write, the death toll is disputed as is the question of whether the terrorists definitely were Muslims.
Terrorism scares people in this country. It scares them to the point that they will lie back and think of the State as the anti-terror legislation is rammed through Parliament.
I imagine attitudes are similar in France. I don’t know the specifics of the anti-terror legislation in France, but I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume that powers of the state have increased since January, though I understand they may presently have rather more rights to privacy and so forth than we have. Last night, I predicted that President Hollande would respond one of two ways: either he would argue that without the existing surveillance and police powers there would have been more deaths, and leave it at that; or he would demand more such powers. From his statement today, it seems he has opted for the latter.
The “international community” has responded. Obama says this is an attack on “humanity”. Cameron has pledged his support. In France, 15000 military men are in Paris. The French border is closed. There is a “state of emergency.” With such a response, I think, rather like after 9/11, we can kiss goodbye to any open debates on the collection of metadata. All the usual “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” legislation will be passed. Furthermore, Britain’s intervention in Syria will once again be on the cards. If the Commons rejects it again, Cameron will use the royal prerogative powers this time. All-in-all, this is not good for freedom.
Caity and Dan shift their gaze towards the Scottish National Party (SNP) and their scary authoritarian policies. We chat about the Named Person legislation and the dangers of the state getting involved in family life, the rise in armed police and stop-and-search powers in Scotland.
We move on to the mainstream media scaring the shit out of people, all the ‘free’ shit that politicians try to peddle, how podcasting is not therapy, the infuriating the vagueness of manifesto pledges and the complete nonsense of having nuclear weapons in Scotland.
Don’t worry, we also mention the sinking ship that is the Scottish Labour party and their negative campaigning tactics (which have left them in the state they now find themselves) plus a look at their ten pledges, cheap boob jobs in Prague and zero hour contracts.
We figure out the best and most artistic way to spoil a ballot paper, how social media desensitises people to government surveillance, getting finger printed at Disney Land, why nothing is free and we finish on the liberating feeling when you realise that all political parties are the same and voting is bullshit.
As you can tell, I’m in the process of creating a whole new look for AttacktheSystem.Com. This new blog format will include many of the features of the old site such as the essays by myself and others and a comprehensive links page. I’m also hoping for this blog to be much more interactive, allowing for greater participation from ATS readers and ARV supporters. Hopefully, fresh news articles will appear much more regularly as well. Please bear with me while I work out all the kinks.