A dinner table conversation last night that began in praise of the NYC police commissar’s “stop and frisk” policy morphed into a discussion of government security measures in general and whether they actually protect us from
black people crime or black people with towels on their heads terrorism or, rather, simply act as pretexts for the repression of officially unapproved activities that have nothing to do with either crime or terrorism. What follows are statements that were made in defense of police state policies. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I’ve Got Nothing to Hide said, “I wouldn’t mind being frisked…as long as they weren’t giving me cavity searches or something like that. I don’t like being spied on by the government, and I see how such a program could be abused, but honestly, I don’t really care if a few potheads get thrown in jail…If it prevents my kids from getting shot or bombed, I’m all for it.”
Translation: I’m pretty sure shopping will never be outlawed. And: Please please PLEASE keep me and my children safe!
Government is Wasteful and Inefficient said, “I’m not afraid of the government. The government is totally inept.”
Translation: What I really mean is that I’m sure the government couldn’t possibly be inept enough to mistake me for a troublemaker.
Security is Freedom said, “You’d feel differently if something happened to you.”
Translation: I’ve never been stopped and harassed by thuggish cops for merely walking down the street while wearing the wrong skin color.
Government Persecution is a Thing of the Past said, “I don’t buy into this right-wing fear of the government. It’s not the 1950s anymore.”
Translation: I haven’t seen any famous Hollywood people dragged up in front of a congressional committee, so clearly that type of thing doesn’t happen anymore; and anyone who thinks otherwise must be a paranoid birther.
Nothing too surprising here: A handful of largely apolitical, reflexively conservative middle-class whites who don’t feel threatened by the state security apparatus. Obviously, the problem is in assuming that since it’s not happening to you, it must not be happening to anybody; or, worse, it’s in putting security over freedom—that is, your security over everyone else’s freedom.