by Beverly Eakman
November 19, 2010
The latest civil rights flap over groping and body scanning of Americans at the gloved hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is symptomatic of a much larger effort. It’s a push to see how much our nation’s lawmakers can get away with before the inevitable massive backlash kicks in. Look at any daily newspaper or online news service, regardless of political stripe, and you’ll find evidence that our country’s leaders and their lapdogs in the bureaucracy are racing to finish what they started some 40 years ago — crafting a highly regimented and regulated America in the European model.
Constitutionally minded Americans tend to see the culprits as socialists or outright Marxists and fascists, but that’s not quite accurate. Capital Hill is awash in people who basically believe that the Founders’ vision was unsustainable to begin with, and that as time went on, new waves of immigrants, along with a native population more accustomed to comfort than venture, would demand more than self-determination and liberty. This idea was encouraged through institutions of learning at all levels, beginning in the 1950s (via UNESCO and the National Education Association) until today this viewpoint is an article of faith. Rugged individualism, self-sufficiency and excellence — all ideals once seen as virtuous, are now considered indicators of mental illness — red flags for antisocial, “loner” instincts averse to becoming “team players.”
If Tea Partiers, patriots, constitutionalists and even libertarians expect to fight politics-as-usual in Washington; if they are to comprehend the sudden speed with which our nation’s heritage has slipped away, the adage about knowing one’s enemy has never been more apt.
The key to the outlook described above is the concept of “a benevolent dictatorship.” This, of course, describes a Nanny State, which purports to take care of all citizens, but must, in the process, impose volumes of regulations, restrictions and arbitrary rules. Why?
Follow the logic here: If the masses are indeed too stupid to manage their own affairs, then officials of government and their appointed minions in the bureaucracy must somehow inculcate a more amenable attitude toward petty diktats and the agencies that enforce them. To accomplish that goal, totalitarian regimes have taught them that “effective” governance alternately intimidates and rewards, humiliates and praises, harasses and protects, degrades and “recognizes,” regiments and provides.
Outraged yet? Don’t be. Just understand the strategy — tactics all too familiar to anyone who once lived under a police state.
Policies like TSA-groping didn’t happen overnight, but in increments — a never-ending series of seemingly random “trial balloons” implemented in airports and government buildings around the country to see just how much Americans would put up with, and the strength of that opposition. This author can remember balking back in the 1990s, loudly enough to be heard and long before the September 11 terrorist attacks, to anyone in line who would listen: The time for people to refuse stripping off their watches, belts, metal barrettes, hearing aids and submitting purses, briefcases, even carry-on formals for inspection was then, not later when it got worse and more arbitrary.
Nobody listened. Most people had already bought into propaganda about hijacked planes (e.g., the Lockerbie incident) and disgruntled employees bearing weapons. They saw the gross inconvenience as “necessary in today’s world” — never considering that known criminals with long police records were boarding aircraft, streaming into our country and being released early from prison on parole here at home. In other words, crime was not taken seriously, even then, and in the interest of “even-handedness,” everyone became a suspect.
That was Trial Balloon #1. Despite the existence of 16 major intelligence agencies, plus some 1,270 adjunct government organizations and 1,900 private companies employed in 10,000 locations in the United States, and more than 850,000 people holding top-secret-and-above clearances, Americans increasingly felt they had to cocoon behind locked and bolted gates, cowering in fear of roving gangs and offenders-on-the-loose. Meanwhile, they waited for the dreaded terrorist plot — perhaps a cyberattack or an improvised explosive device at a café. They got the goods on September 11, 2001 — from thugs who should never have been in the country, and who gave plenty of warning signals (such as odd requests to their flying instructors).
Today, our “betters” in government are busy throwing their considerable weight around — telling us what to eat; installing speed bumps (at $1,200 a pop) every few feet; placing all manner of “traffic” (read: surveillance) cameras to generate revenue, not to stop terrorists; obsessing over whether girls or boys are being short-changed in high-school sports programs under Title IX (1972) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; trolling for seat belt violators and dogs off leash (to generate more revenue); tearing down Christian symbols with one hand (under the cover of the Establishment Clause), while offering a nod to Shariah law with the other; jailing our own border patrol agents for doing their job, then subjecting honest Americans to demeaning searches at airports!
All this defies common sense.
Or does it?
Not if you study the tactics.
The burgeoning numbers of not-so-well-educated Americans (illegal immigrants included) are unable to grasp that our population is “being played.” Complaints are too little — and way too late.
The fellow who recently hollered at the TSA staff “don’t touch my junk,” in the process becoming a kind of folk hero, may even be headed for jail. Behavioral Detection Officers (BDOs) are set to be deployed, first in airports and then anywhere that suits our “betters.” The purpose? To look for facial expressions or body language that signals disgust with the “security” process.
That’s right. Being disgruntled is symptomatic of “anger issues,” and you know where that leads — straight to the psychiatrist’s office. There you’ll get by with a little help from your friends (i.e., the newest psychotropic drugs), to make you calm and more amenable.
Hey! This isn’t alarmist talk. Already your kids are the beneficiaries of such policy. Is little LaToya exhibiting signs of “attention-deficit disorder”? Is Shawn “acting out” (all psychiatric terms) in school! Well, give ’em a pill! If Mom is okay with that, then let’s give her one, too, to help with “anger issues.”
In similar fashion, one constitutional freedom after another is being slashed, and not just here in the U.S., but throughout what used to be called, variously, “the civilized world,” “the free world,” “Christendom,” and Western Civilization.”
For the first time, all Americans, whatever their ethnic background or color, are seeing in-your-face challenges to civil rights that their grandparents would never have tolerated. Even now-aging Baby Boomers were not acclimated from toddler-age to accept this kind of across-the-board abridgment of their prerogatives. The old Boomer mantra “free to be, you and me” is now a pitiful joke. Those Boomers spent their college years demonstratin’ and protestin’ without a clue as to how they were being patronized by highly trained “agents of change” to demonize rules, authority and traditional mores (among the more famous “useful idiots” are Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, who emerged from their violent pasts to hold vaunted positions in academia and liberal think-tanks). Today, these same cohorts-in-chaos can’t think up enough rules to intimidate their fellow citizens.
Younger Americans, the under-35 crowd, can’t remember a time when passengers came to the airport gate with friends and relatives, hugging their loved ones joyously or saying tearful goodbyes, then just boarded the plane and plopped down. How many of that same demographic remember when no one needed a computerized key card or pass-code just to use a restroom? How long has it been since 12-year-olds frolicked into a school building without running a gauntlet of metal detectors, pat-downs and even strip-searches for aspirin hidden in their underpants? When did youngsters not see signs everywhere informing them that their belongings were “subject to inspection”? How many years since local police actually comported themselves as though they served the individuals in their communities instead of accosting little kids for setting up “unlicensed” lemonade stands, or handcuffing those who dared to bring the last few French fries from a fast-food chain onto a subway platform?
Do thirty-somethings recall a time when homeowners actually had a right to thwart burglars and rapists, including shooting intruders if necessary, when faced with an uninvited “guest”? Did they ever ride a bike and thrill to the feel of wind blowing through their hair, or were they forced (not asked) to wear the equivalent of a football helmet at threat of a fine? Do they remember a day when a good credit rating meant paying the full amount on your credit card statement each month before the interest was due, as opposed to paying with interest, but on time, by the due-date on the statement?
How about neighborhood fireworks on the Fourth of July? Or the right to rent a room only to those who, for whatever reason, met with the approval of the owner, not the dictates of the government? When did anyone last call a pest-control service to rid the house of disease-carrying vermin, without paying for expensive, government-approved concoctions that don’t work?
Today’s young graduates remember none of these things. And we call that “progress.”
Who cares that we are faced with a government which so depletes that national treasury through various “obligations” and “entitlements” as to bring the nation to a financial standstill? Who balks at a retiring U.S. Postmaster General (John E. Potter), undoubtedly laughing all the way to the bank as the Post Office he headed goes broke, getting an $800,000 salary; an “incentive compensation” of $228,926; a $219,000 pension; an executive pension plan worth $1.35 million and an accrued annual leave entitlement of $243,978? Would this man have trouble sending his kids or grandkids to a top private school (about $21,000 a year), or to college (typically some $40,000 a year)? Not likely.
But guess who the government considers “rich.” Potter? Heck, no. “Rich” is some sap making $250,000 a year or less — which, if that’s all he has, will not allow for splurges like private schools and top colleges. Don’t believe it? Do the math: two kids times $21,000 times 12 years, plus 4 (or more) years at $40,000 a year each. C’mon!
Our grandparents would have croaked at today’s ostentatious retirement packages for “public servants.” Not to mention the accumulated wealth of disgraced “public servants” headed for incarceration, or their loaded lobbyist-enablers in the private sector.
Meanwhile, the so-called Civil Rights Commission declines to pursue legitimate violations of the Voting Rights Act — as long as it’s a minority group doin’ the harrassin’, and not a white one. In university dormitories (among them, the University of Delaware), clueless residents face highly trained Resident Assistants (RA’s), who labor to change attitudes not in conformity with political correctness; then they report any reticent collegiates to their superiors to increase the pressure! (For shades of Hitler’s Youth, you can’t beat that one!)
As for K-12 pupils, we now have new and improved data collection systems, identifying with numerical codes every conceivable religious belief, from Calvinism to Wiccan — a topic that was totally off limits less than a decade ago — along with any “negative’ attitudinal data on parents’ beliefs. Students receive a state-supplied ID number, so they believe the information and perceptions they provide are anonymous.
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Only later do they discover that their possibly erroneous data has been cross-matched and placed into a state data bank, which is forwarded to a federal database at the National Center for Education Statistics in Washington via a Social Security number for “longitudinal studies.” When do they find this out? When they receive follow-up questionnaires in college and on into the workplace. Ha-ha.
Why are our nation’s leaders at all three level — local, state and federal — aiding, abetting and subsidizing these kinds of overreaches with our tax dollars; and why are the nation’s bureaucrats pulling out all the stops to get their share of the action?
To paraphrase former President Bill Clinton, "Because they can, stupid!"
© 2010 Beverly Eakman - All Rights Reserved
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Beverly K. Eakman is a former educator and retired federal employee who served as writer and editor for three government agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Justice, NASA and the Voice of America. Today, she is a Washington, DC-based freelance writer, author of six books, and a frequent speaker on the lecture circuit. Her new book, hitting the street next week, is A Common-Sense Platform for the 21st Century (Midnight Whistler Publishers, 2010).
She can be reached through her website: