April 27, 2013

Obedience Training, the Boston Experiment, and "A Crack in Time"

I keep thinking about videos like this one of the house-to-house searches in Watertown. I'm certain many others have been similarly preoccupied and concerned.

One of the most striking and profoundly alarming aspects of the lockdown of Boston and its surroundings is the enormous ease with which it was accomplished. Here is one report describing what transpired:
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit and warned close to 1 million people in the entire city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt for Suspect No. 2 went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home. The Red Sox and Bruins postponed their games.

From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead and armored vehicles rumbled through the streets. Authorities also searched trains.
If we are to judge on the basis of the coverage provided, there was no resistance at all on the part of anyone. If there had been such resistance, surely reports would have surfaced somewhere -- if not in media reports (and since the media was locked down as effectively as Boston itself, such an "omission" would hardly be a surprise), then on Twitter, or via some other means of personal documentation.

I find it somewhat startling that apparently all businesses complied with Dear Leaders' Instructions. What happened to fabled American greed, for God's sake? One analysis estimates (perhaps somewhat "simplistically," as the story notes) that shutting down the Boston area for just one day costs roughly $1 billion. Wasn't there a single business owner who said: "Aw, screw dis. Since all my competitors are a buncha weenies, I'm gonna stay open -- and clean up!"?

Of course, he wouldn't have cleaned up. Dear Leaders stopped all public transportation and banned taxi service, so it would have been difficult for people to get around, which would mean few if any customers. However, many people could still have gotten around -- and even conducted business! praise the Lord! -- if they had wanted to.

Clamp your bleeding, obedient eyes on this:
By early Friday morning, the streets of Watertown and Cambridge were deserted, and life in Boston, a major American city, had ground to a standstill. Throughout the day, the media described residents complying with a “lockdown order,” but in reality the governor’s security measure was a request.

"The lockdown is really voluntary, to be honest with you,” says Scott Silliman, emeritus director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School.
“The governor said he wants to use sheltering in place. Sheltering in place is a practice normally used if you’re dealing with a pandemic, where you’re telling people, ‘You may have been exposed and we want you to stay exactly where you are so we can isolate everything and we’ll come to you.’”

The “shelter in place” request is legally different from a state of emergency, which Patrick declared earlier this year as winter storm Nemo descended on the Bay State. Patrick imposed a travel ban, threatening a penalty of up to a year in prison and a large fine if people were found on the roads. Massachusetts suffered very few fatalities during the storm.

When it came to keeping the public off the streets on Friday, an order, it seems, wasn’t needed. “When the governor suggested in light of last night’s events that we have an armed subject on the loose who is very dangerous, who has committed murder, I believe the citizens of the commonwealth, in the hopes of helping law enforcement, voluntarily stayed off the streets,” Massachusetts State Trooper Todd Nolan told TIME. “This is a request that the public stay inside and they are adhering to it. There has been no law mentioned or any idea that if you went outside you’d be arrested.”
And, it appears, everyone did as they were asked -- all because of one armed suspect on the loose.

I've written extensively, in many articles, about the sacred value of a single human life; see this essay, as one example. I do not need to establish further my deep conviction on this issue, not as far as any honest reader of my work is concerned. It is certainly unspeakably terrible that three people were killed and close to 200 horrifically injured in the initial Boston bombings. But to close down an entire major metropolitan area and suspend all relevant provisions of the Constitution in specified areas -- because of one suspect who remains at large? And to accomplish all this merely with a request?

To all that, I can only say; Jesus Christ, folks. Get a grip. Imagine if the following were to happen:
New York(NotCNN) -- A series of bomb blasts across the United States on Monday killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 257 others.

The attacks took place in at least six states: New York, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Washington, and Alabama, as well as in the District of Columbia.

Two of the bombs exploded at a checkpoint near JFK International Airport. Attacks elsewhere hit security checkpoints and political offices.
That is exactly what happened in Iraq on the same day the Boston bombings occurred. And for that, the Iraqis can thank the United States and its criminal war of aggression, which directly and intentionally led to the current state of affairs in that beleaguered country.

So imagine if my scenario for the U.S. were to happen, or a scenario that was "only" half or a third as destructive. Twelve years after 9/11, and on the basis of the Boston experiment, the always compliant media, criminally eager for any opportunity to fan national hysteria, would create within hours an atmosphere which would permit the national, state and local governments to do essentially whatever they wanted. All the authorities would have to do is ask.

This is what the experiment in Boston revealed, and this is what those in power now know. I often refer to America today as an "obedience culture," and this is a powerful and perfectly awful demonstration of what I mean. And the Boston experiment? That was a test to determine how diligent Americans have been during their obedience training. They passed with very high grades.

As only one indication of the phoniness of the Boston hysteria -- and the same would be equally true of the deliberately inflamed hysteria following my imagined scenario of "bomb blasts across the United States" -- consider just this one detail from the Fiscal Times piece:
Not all business activity was shut down. At the direction of authorities, select Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of needs of law enforcement and first responders," Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer of Dunkin’ Brands, said in an emailed statement.
In the context of what the Boston experiment has revealed, this is so staggeringly sickening that I can't even make jokes about it.

Let's go back to those house-to-house searches I mentioned at the outset. What would have happened if just one woman or man had resisted? Suppose the SWAT team arrived and banged on her door, demanding that she "open up," leave the house (and submit to a patdown), and that she was told the SWAT team would then search her residence. Suppose she stood at the door holding a gun -- a gun that she was legally entitled to own -- and simply said, "No." Suppose she asked if they had any particular reason to believe that the suspect was in her house, or any particular reason to search her house at all.

If she was holding a gun, would they have killed her? "Merely" wounded her? Eliminate the gun. Suppose she stood there with no weapon at all, and just said, "No. Unless you have a specific reason to search my house, I'm not letting you in. And I'm not leaving." Would they have forced their way in and taken her into custody? Almost certainly.

If something like that were to happen in the future, would we even know about it? Did it perhaps happen in one or two instances in Boston? For extended periods, the news blackout in Watertown was comprehensive. But I think word would have gotten out in some way -- as, for example, via the home videos we have of the house searches. I recall that when news of the disgusting abuses at Abu Ghraib first broke, I argued (in a post since lost when the blog archives were corrupted) that the Iraqis had known of the abuses all along. I cited substantial evidence from Iraqis themselves to prove the point. So even though many Americans (and all national leaders) phonily feigned surprise and shock, there was nothing about Abu Ghraib that constituted "news" to anyone with half a brain who had been paying attention. And I remarked that victims, of course, always know what is done to them -- and they talk, to family, to friends, to those who understand and are sympathetic. Word always gets out, one way or another.

And if there was resistance, and if the heavily armed "protectors" reacted with force, perhaps wounding the resister or at least arresting her, and assuming news of the incident got out, what would the reaction be?

I don't know the answer to that, and I'm not eager to find out. Out of such incidents, if not revolution, at least localized rebellions are born. In my view, there is no doubt whatsoever that all such rebellions would be put down with brutal, horrifying, violent State force. Because of recent events, I consider it an issue that demands careful thought.

I'm reading Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, and thinking once again about if and when violence is justified, or at least inevitable. (I wrote about Brown in the concluding section of this post. It is worth recalling that Thoreau passionately admired Brown, as did Victor Hugo, both of whom are also discussed in that piece.) The epigraph to Midnight Rising is these lines from Stephen Vincent Benet's "John Brown's Body":
Sometimes there comes a crack in
Time itself.
Sometimes the earth is torn by
something blind.
A lone resister standing at the door to her house, saying, "No" -- that could be such "a crack in Time itself."

Specific predictions about future events are often a fool's business. Predicting overall trends and likely general eventualities is very different. Given the course to which the ruling class now brings its full dedication and its massive resources, including the application of terror and brute force, the most dismaying, indeed deeply unnerving, aspect of the Boston experiment is that those who rule this nation seem more determined than ever to cause us all to see once more "the earth ... torn by something blind."

Until several years ago, I would never have believed I would see it in my lifetime. Yet here it is. It is a terrible business.

And we must think about it.