Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fastening The Shackles: How the Militarization of the Police was Prophesied a Century Ago

by Nomad

Progressive reformers and anti-imperialists from a century ago warned us about what happens when a nation uses its military to establish an empire. Today, with the militarization of the police force around the country we are watching their warnings playing out right before our eyes.

Some effects are more predictable than others. If you do that, this will happen. That is also true for nations and societies. Take the militarization of the American police force.   

Over a hundred years ago, high-minded progressives were warning that the nation which relies on military for its empire-building would suffer some drastic unintended consequences. It would, without any doubt, lead  to the kind of police force that was counter to anybody's concept of liberty. Those chickens, as they say, would inevitably come home to roost.

In 1900, for instance, William Jennings Bryan espoused that view. In a speech on American imperialism, he said that when a nation freely violates the human rights of other nations it would be no time at all when it turns its lawlessness on its own people. 
Bryan said:
If there is poison in the blood of the hand it will ultimately reach the heart.
Scouring the archives, I found this stunning quote by the long-forgotten American reformer and author, Ernest Howard Crosby. Though his career as a reformer was short- only the last ten years of his life- he earned a fine reputation for his anti-militarist and anti-imperialist writings. 
(You can find Crosby's complete biography here.)

When he died of pneumonia in 1907, there was hardly a mention of his passing. That fact prompted the feminist, anarchist, atheist Emma Goldman to write:
Oh, if he had been a puller of strings in the murky business of politics, an unscrupulous bare-faced parvenu, a successful thief of the toil and sweat of the poor, the columns of the major newspapers of the lying money press would have been unanimous in their sing splendid paeans to his virtues..
They said nothing: no one seemed to have noticed that a great intellect and noble heart had been still forever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are Gov Rick Perry's Indictments Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

by Nomad

Texas Governor Perry's indictments may be the tip of the iceberg if one investigative writer's theory is correct.

A New York Times bestselling author and Emmy winning former TV news correspondent, James Moore, offers a some important background to the Rick Perry indictments in a recent blog post.
Moore suggests there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

The narrative widely promoted by the mainstream media runs something like this: The Texas governor has been indicted for using some high pressure tactics to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign. 

That move came, so the story goes, after Lehmberg was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The police report shows blood alcohol content at three times the legal limits.
However, as Moore observes in his article, drunk driving - for which there is absolutely no excuse- is not something that Rick Perry cared too much about in the past.
Two other Texas D.A.s were arrested for DUI during Perry’s tenure in office and he spoke not a discouraging word about their indiscretions.
When it came to Lehmberg, it was a completely different story  According to Perry, the governor eliminated the $7.5 million dollar budget that Lehmberg managed for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) because “the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”  

Moore thinks it's important to look at the details a little closer.

Martin Luther King on the Futility of Hating the Haters

by Nomad

A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that matching hate with hate, violence with violence, is not the solution. 

I saw this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. and thought it deserved a little more attention. In my opinion, what he said is the essence of Christian doctrine as preached by Jesus. (Nevertheless, we hear a lot of hate speech from people claim to be Christian.)
In Chapter six from the Book of Luke, it says:
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you....
In Matthew we also see:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 
To resist matching hate for hate must be the hardest advice to follow. I am not sure whether most of us are up to that task. I suppose the underlying idea is that love is an irresistible force. I hope that's true. But the idea goes beyond that. It is also a warning that hate is a contagion that can infect even the purest angels among us. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Security without Liberty: The Militarization of American Police

by Nomad

After the September 11 attacks, the American public was quite willing to make a trade off: the exchange of some of their constitutional rights and liberties in the name of security. Over the years, the level of police militarization has not decreased in comparison to the threat. If anything it has increased.

Americans have suddenly woken up to the fact that when you trade liberty for security, you end up with neither.

If there is one good thing to come out of the events in St. Louis, it is the increased attention that is now being paid to the wholesale militarization of the police. It is a subject we have covered several times in this blog.

Matt Apuzzo from the New York Times recently wrote an article which noted that in the Obama era:
“police departments 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.”
The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what look like invading forces from an army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.
The article also adds that there is a racial element too:
Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that “American policing has become excessively militarized through the use of weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield” and that this militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.”
Journalist Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides us with information about the police force there. 
(This article is reprinted with permission.)