Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

How do you trust a government that continuously sidesteps the Constitution and undermines our rights? You can’t.

When you consider all the ways “we the people” are being bullied, beaten, bamboozled, targeted, tracked, repressed, robbed, impoverished, imprisoned and killed by the government, one can only conclude that you shouldn’t trust the government with your privacy, your property, your life, or your freedoms.

Consider for yourself.

Don’t trust the government with your privacy, digital or otherwise. In the two decades since 9/11, the military-security industrial complex has operated under a permanent state of emergency that, in turn, has given rise to a digital prison that grows more confining and inescapable by the day. Wall-to wall surveillance, monitored by AI software and fed to a growing network of fusion centers, render the twin concepts of privacy and anonymity almost void. By conspiring with corporations, the Department of Homeland Security “fueled a massive influx of money into surveillance and policing in our cities, under a banner of emergency response and counterterrorism.” For instance, all across the country, police are installing Flock Safety license plate readers as part of a public-private partnership program between police and the surveillance industry. These cameras, which upload data in real time to fusion crime centers, signal a turning point in the transition from a police state to a police-driven surveillance state.

Don’t trust the government with your property. In yet another effort to legitimize warrantless searches, police are employing “hit-and-hold” tactics in which police enter a home, carry out an initial sweep of the property, handcuff the occupants, then wait for official search warrants to be secured and applied retroactively. In the meantime, police have managed to bypass the Fourth Amendment. The rationale, to prevent possible destruction of evidence, is the same one used to deadly effect with no-knock raids. If government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government. Hard-working Americans are having their bank accounts, homes, cars electronics and cash seized by police under the assumption that they have allegedly been associated with some criminal scheme.

Don’t trust the government with your finances. The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are being forced to foot the bill for the government’s fiscal insanity. The national debt is $31.3 trillion and growing, and we’re paying more than $300 billion in interest every year on that public debt, yet there seems to be no end in sight when it comes to the government’s fiscal insanity. According to Forbes, Congress has raised, extended or revised the definition of the debt limit 78 times since 1960 in order to allow the government to essentially fund its existence with a credit card.

Don’t trust the government with your health. For all intents and purposes, “we the people” have become lab rats in the government’s secret experiments, which include MKULTRA and the U.S. military’s secret race-based testing of mustard gas on more than 60,000 enlisted men. Indeed, you don’t have to dig very deep or go very back in the nation’s history to uncover numerous cases in which the government deliberately conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases and exposing them to airborne toxins. Unfortunately, the public has become so easily distracted by the political spectacle out of Washington, DC, that they are altogether oblivious to the grisly experiments, barbaric behavior and inhumane conditions that have become synonymous with the U.S. government, which has meted out untold horrors against humans and animals alike.

Don’t trust the government with your life: At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people have been shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences. The number of Americans killed by police continues to grow, with the majority of those killed as a result of police encounters having been suspected of a non-violent offense or no crime at all, or during a traffic violation. According a report by Mapping Police Violence, police killed more people in 2022 than any other year within the past decade. In 98% of those killings, police were not charged with a crime.

Don’t trust the government with your freedoms. For years now, the government has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the American people, letting us enjoy just enough freedom to think we are free but not enough to actually allow us to live as a free people. Freedom no longer means what it once did. This holds true whether you’re talking about the right to criticize the government in word or deed, the right to be free from government surveillance, the right to not have your person or your property subjected to warrantless searches by government agents, the right to due process, the right to be safe from militarized police invading your home, the right to be innocent until proven guilty and every other right that once reinforced the founders’ belief that this would be “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” On paper, we may be technically free, but in reality, we are only as free as a government official may allow.

Whatever else it may be—a danger, a menace, a threat—the U.S. government is certainly not looking out for our best interests, nor is it in any way a friend to freedom.

Remember the purpose of a good government is to protect the lives and liberties of its people.

Unfortunately, what we have been saddled with is, in almost every regard, the exact opposite of an institution dedicated to protecting the lives and liberties of its people.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” should have learned early on that a government that repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, spies, kills, maims, enslaves, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority, and abuses its power at almost every turn can’t be trusted.

Source: https://bit.ly/3W36IW2

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”—Montesquieu, Enlightenment philosopher

For those wondering what to expect from the government in 2023, it looks like we’re going to be in for more of the same in terms of the government’s brand of madness, mayhem, corruption and brutality.

Digital prisons. Unceasingly, the government and its corporate partners are pushing for a national digital ID system. Local police agencies have already been given access to facial recognition software and databases containing 20 billion images, the precursor to a digital ID. Eventually, a digital ID will be required to gain access to all aspects of life: government, work, travel, healthcare, financial services, shopping, etc. Before long, biometrics (iris scans, face print, voice, DNA, etc.), will become the de facto digital ID.

Precrime. Under the pretext of helping overwhelmed government agencies work more efficiently, AI predictive and surveillance technologies are being used to classify, segregate and flag the populace with little concern for privacy rights or due process. All of this sorting, sifting and calculating is being done swiftly, secretly and incessantly with the help of AI technology and a surveillance state that monitors your every move. AI predictive tools are being deployed in almost every area of life.

Mandatory quarantines. Building on precedents established during the COVID-19 pandemic, government agents may be empowered to indefinitely detain anyone they suspect of posing a medical risk to others without providing an explanation, subject them to medical tests without their consent, and carry out such detentions and quarantines without any kind of due process or judicial review.

Mental health assessments by non-medical personnel. As a result of a nationwide push to train a broad spectrum of so-called gatekeepers in mental health first-aid training, more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported by non-medical personnel and detained for having mental health issues.

Tracking chips for citizens. Momentum is building for corporations and the government alike to be able to track the populace, whether through the use of RFID chips embedded in a national ID card, microscopic chips embedded in one’s skin, or tags in retail products.

Military involvement domestically. The future, according to a Pentagon training video, will be militaristic, dystopian and far from friendly to freedom. Indeed, all signs point to the battlefield of the future being the American home front. Anticipating this, the government plans to have the military work in conjunction with local police to quell civil unrest domestically.

Government censorship of anything it classifies as disinformation. In the government’s ongoing assault on those who criticize the government—whether that criticism manifests itself in word, deed or thought—government and corporate censors claiming to protect us from dangerous, disinformation campaigns are, in fact, laying the groundwork now to preempt any “dangerous” ideas that might challenge the power elite’s stranglehold over our lives.

Threat assessments. The government has a growing list—shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies—of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that could flag someone as suspicious and result in their being labeled potential enemies of the state. Before long, every household in America will be flagged as a threat and assigned a threat score. It’s just a matter of time before you find yourself wrongly accused, investigated and confronted by police based on a data-driven algorithm or risk assessment culled together by a computer program run by artificial intelligence.

War on cash. The government and its corporate partners are engaged in a concerted campaign to shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient. This push for a digital currency dovetails with the government’s war on cash, which it has been subtly waging for some time now. In recent years, just the mere possession of significant amounts of cash could implicate you in suspicious activity and label you a criminal.

Expansive surveillance. AI surveillance harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and widespread surveillance technology to do what the police state lacks the manpower and resources to do efficiently or effectively: be everywhere, watch everyone and everything, monitor, identify, catalogue, cross-check, cross-reference, and collude. Everything that was once private is now up for grabs to the right buyer. With every new AI surveillance technology that is adopted and deployed without any regard for privacy, Fourth Amendment rights and due process, the rights of the citizenry are being marginalized, undermined and eviscerated.

Militarized police. Having transformed local law enforcement into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are moving into the next phase of the transformation, turning the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone extraction software, Stingray devices and so much more.

Police shootings of unarmed citizens. Owing in large part to the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, not a week goes by without more reports of hair-raising incidents by police imbued with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a battlefield approach to the communities in which they serve. Police brutality and the use of excessive force continues unabated.

False flags and terrorist attacks. Almost every tyranny being perpetrated by the U.S. government against the citizenry—purportedly to keep us safe and the nation secure—has come about as a result of some threat manufactured in one way or another by our own government. This has become the shadow government’s modus operandi regardless of which party is in power: the government creates a menace—knowing full well the ramifications such a danger might pose to the public—then without ever owning up to the part it played in unleashing that particular menace on an unsuspecting populace, it demands additional powers in order to protect “we the people” from the threat.

Endless wars to keep America’s military’s empire employed. The military and security industrial complexes that have advocated that the U.S. remain at war, year after year, are the very entities that will continue to profit the most from America’s expanding military empire abroad and here at home.

Erosions of private property. Private property means little at a time when SWAT teams and other government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, wound or kill you, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.

Overcriminalization. The government has increasingly adopted the authoritarian notion that it knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives. Overregulation and overcriminalization have been pushed to such outrageous limits that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair.

Strip searches and the denigration of bodily integrity. Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, forcibly take our DNA, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Individuals—men and women alike—continue to be subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops.

Censorship. First Amendment activities are being pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. Free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors have conspired to corrode our core freedoms. The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remains the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

Taxation Without Any Real Representation. As a Princeton University survey indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. We are no longer a representative republic. With Big Business and Big Government having fused into a corporate state, the president and his state counterparts—the governors—have become little more than CEOs of the Corporate State, which day by day is assuming more government control over our lives. Never before have average Americans had so little say in the workings of their government and even less access to their so-called representatives.

Year after year, the government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms, and yet year after year, “we the people” allow ourselves to be suckered into believing that politics will fix what’s wrong with the country.

Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is the very definition of insanity.

Source: https://bit.ly/3ItNINg

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

The danger signs were everywhere in 2022.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, we were reminded that in the eyes of the government and its corporate accomplices, “we the people” possess no rights except for that which the Deep State grants on an as-needed basis.

Totalitarian paranoia spiked. What we have been saddled with is a government so power-hungry, paranoid and afraid of losing its stranglehold on power that it has conspired to wage war on anyone who dares to challenge its authority. In a Machiavellian attempt to expand its powers, the government unleashed all manner of dangers on an unsuspecting populace in order to justify its demands for additional powers to protect “we the people” from emerging threats, whether legitimate, manufactured or overblown.

The state of our nation suffered. The nation remained politically polarized, controlled by forces beyond the purview of the average American, and rapidly moving the nation away from its freedom foundation. The combined blowback from a contentious presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Americans being subjected to egregious civil liberties violations, invasive surveillance, martial law, lockdowns, political correctness, erosions of free speech, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, and the criminalization of lawful activities.

Thought crimes became a target for punishment. For years now, the government has used all of the weapons in its vast arsenal—surveillance, threat assessments, fusion centers, pre-crime programs, hate crime laws, militarized police, lockdowns, martial law, etc.—to target potential enemies of the state based on their ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that might be deemed suspicious or dangerous. In other words, if you dare to subscribe to any views that are contrary to the government’s, you may well be suspected of being a domestic terrorist and treated accordingly. In 2022, those who criticized the government—whether that criticism manifested itself in word, deed or thought—were flagged as dangerous alongside consumers and spreaders of “mis- dis- and mal-information.”

Speech was muzzled. Those who want to monitor, muzzle, catalogue and censor speech continued to push for social media monitoring, censorship of flagged content that could be construed as dangerous or hateful, and limitations on free speech activities, particularly online. Of course, it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act. If the government can control speech, it can control thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

Kill switches aimed to turn off more than just your car. Vehicle “kill switches” were sold to the public as a safety measure aimed at keeping drunk drivers off the roads, but they were a perfect metaphor for the government’s efforts to not only take control of our cars but also our freedoms and our lives. For too long, we have been captive passengers in a driverless car controlled by the government, losing more and more of our privacy and autonomy the further down the road we go.

Currency went digital. No matter how much money the government pulls in, it’s never enough, so the government came up with a new plan to make it even easier for its agents to seize Americans’ bank account. In an Executive Order issued in March 2022, President Biden called for the federal government to consider establishing a form of digital money. Digital currency will provide the government and its corporate partners with a mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

The government spoke in a language of violence. Police violence killed three people a day. Warrior cops—trained in the worst-case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—did not make us or themselves any safer. Despite this, President Biden’s pledged to expand law enforcement and so-called crime prevention through a $30 billion “Fund the Police” program.

Cancel culture became more intolerant. Cancel culture—political correctness amped up on steroids, the self-righteousness of a narcissistic age, and a mass-marketed pseudo-morality that is little more than fascism disguised as tolerance—shifted us into an Age of Intolerance, policed by techno-censors, social media bullies, and government watchdogs. Everything has now become fair game for censorship if it can be construed as hateful, hurtful, bigoted or offensive provided that it runs counter to the established viewpoint.

Homes were invaded. Government agents routinely violated the Fourth Amendment at will under the pretext of public health and safety. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the many ways the government and its corporate partners-in-crime used surveillance technology to invade homes: with wiretaps, thermal imaging, surveillance cameras, and other monitoring devices.

Political theater kept the public distracted. Having devolved into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population, the political scene provided ample diversions with its televised Jan. 6 committee hearings, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings, and more.

Bodily integrity was undermined. Caught in the crosshairs of a showdown between the rights of the individual and the so-called “emergency” state, concerns about COVID-19 mandates and bodily integrity remained part of a much larger debate over the ongoing power struggle between the citizenry and the government over our property “interest” in our bodies. This debate over bodily integrity covered broad territory, ranging from abortion and forced vaccinations to biometric surveillance and basic healthcare. Although the Supreme Court overturned its earlier rulings recognizing abortion as a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment, it did nothing to resolve the larger problem that plagues us today: namely, that all along the spectrum of life—from the unborn child to the aged—the government continues to play fast and loose with the lives of the citizenry.

The government’s fiscal insanity reached new heights. The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) hit $30 trillion. That translates to roughly $242,000 per taxpayer. It’s estimated that the amount this country owes is now 130% greater than its gross domestic product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). That debt is also growing exponentially: it is expected to be twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2051.

Surveillance got creepier. On any given day, the average American going about his daily business was monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. In such a surveillance ecosystem, we’re all suspects and databits to be tracked, catalogued and targeted. With every new AI surveillance technology that was adopted and deployed without any regard for privacy, Fourth Amendment rights and due process, the rights of the citizenry were marginalized, undermined and eviscerated.

Precrime became more fact than fiction. Under the pretext of helping overwhelmed government agencies work more efficiently, AI predictive and surveillance technologies were used to classify, segregate and flag the populace with little concern for privacy rights or due process. All of this sorting, sifting and calculating was done swiftly, secretly and incessantly with the help of AI technology and a surveillance state that monitors your every move. Where this becomes particularly dangerous is when the government takes preemptive steps to combat crime or abuse, or whatever the government has chosen to outlaw at any given time.

The government waged psychological warfare on the nation. The government made clear in word and deed that “we the people” are domestic enemies to be targeted, tracked, manipulated, micromanaged, surveilled, viewed as suspects, and treated as if our fundamental rights are mere privileges that can be easily discarded. Aided and abetted by technological advances and scientific experimentation, the government weaponized violence; surveillance, pre-crime and pre-thought campaigns; digital currencies, social media scores and censorship; desensitization campaigns; fear; genetics; and entertainment.

Gun confiscation laws put a target on the back of every American. Red flag gun laws (which authorize government officials to seize guns from individuals viewed as a danger to themselves or others) gained traction as a legislative means by which to allow police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats. Red flag gun laws merely push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless.

The burden of proof was reversed. Although the Constitution requires the government to provide solid proof of criminal activity before it can deprive a citizen of life or liberty, the government turned that fundamental assurance of due process on its head. Each and every one of us is now seen as a potential suspect, terrorist and lawbreaker in the eyes of the government. The groundwork has been laid for a new kind of government where it won’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty, whether you’re a threat to the nation, or even if you’re a citizen. What will matter is what the government—or whoever happens to be calling the shots at the time—thinks. And if the powers-that-be think you’re a threat to the nation and should be locked up, then you’ll be locked up with no access to the protections our Constitution provides.

The Supreme Court turned America into a Constitution-free zone. Although the Court’s rulings on qualified immunity for police who engage in official misconduct were largely overshadowed by its politically polarizing rulings on abortion, gun ownership and religion, they were no less devastating. The bottom line: there will be no consequences for cops who brutalize the citizenry and no justice for the victims of police brutality.

The FBI went rogue. The FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people ran the gamut from surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, and intimidation tactics to harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know.

The government waged war on political freedom. In more and more cases, the government declared war on what should be protected political speech whenever it challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

The military industrial complex waged more wars. America’s part in the showdown between Russia and the Ukraine conveniently followed on the heels of a long line of other crises which have occurred like clockwork in order to keep Americans distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms.

The Deep State went global. We’ve been inching closer to a new world order for the past several decades, but COVID-19, which saw governmental and corporate interests become even more closely intertwined, shifted this transformation into high gear. This new world order—a global world order—made up of international government agencies and corporations owes its existence in large part to the U.S. government’s deep-seated and, in many cases, top-secret alliances with foreign nations and global corporations. This powerful international cabal, let’s call it the Global Deep State, is just as real as the corporatized, militarized, industrialized American Deep State, and it poses just as great a threat to our rights as individuals under the U.S. Constitution, if not greater.

Authoritarian madness escalated. You didn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to recognize the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate. When any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and an utter disregard for the rights of the individual, there should be reason for concern.

The takeaway: the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, if there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it rests—as it always has—at the local level, with “we the people.”

Unless we work together to push back against the government’s overreach, excesses and abuse, 2023 will be yet another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for freedom.

Source: https://bit.ly/3jrcC5D

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness’ sake!”
—“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”

You’d better watch out—you’d better not pout—you’d better not cry—‘cos I’m telling you why: this Christmas, it’s the Surveillance State that’s making a list and checking it twice, and it won’t matter whether you’ve been bad or good.

You’ll be on this list whether you like it or not.

Mass surveillance is the Deep State’s version of a “gift” that keeps on giving…back to the Deep State.

Geofencing dragnets. Fusion centers. Smart devices. Behavioral threat assessments. Terror watch lists. Facial recognition. Snitch tip lines. Biometric scanners. Pre-crime. DNA databases. Data mining. Precognitive technology. Contact tracing apps.

What these add up to is a world in which, on any given day, the average person is now monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother.

Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by a vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.

This creepy new era of government/corporate spying—in which we’re being listened to, watched, tracked, followed, mapped, bought, sold and targeted—has been made possible by a global army of techno-tyrants, fusion centers and Peeping Toms.

Consider just a small sampling of the tools being used to track our movements, monitor our spending, and sniff out all the ways in which our thoughts, actions and social circles might land us on the government’s naughty list, whether or not you’ve done anything wrong.

Tracking you based on your phone and movements: Cell phones have become de facto snitches, offering up a steady stream of digital location data on users’ movements and travels. For instance, the FBI was able to use geofence data to identify more than 5,000 mobile devices (and their owners) in a 4-acre area around the Capitol on January 6. This latest surveillance tactic could land you in jail for being in the “wrong place and time.” Police are also using cell-site simulators to carry out mass surveillance of protests without the need for a warrant. Moreover, federal agents can now employ a number of hacking methods in order to gain access to your computer activities and “see” whatever you’re seeing on your monitor. Malicious hacking software can also be used to remotely activate cameras and microphones, offering another means of glimpsing into the personal business of a target.

Tracking you based on your DNA. DNA technology in the hands of government officials completes our transition to a Surveillance State. If you have the misfortune to leave your DNA traces anywhere a crime has been committed, you’ve already got a file somewhere in some state or federal database—albeit it may be a file without a name. By accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc. After all, a DNA print reveals everything about “who we are, where we come from, and who we will be.” It can also be used to predict the physical appearance of potential suspects. It’s only a matter of time before the police state’s pursuit of criminals expands into genetic profiling and a preemptive hunt for criminals of the future.

Tracking you based on your face: Facial recognition software aims to create a society in which every individual who steps out into public is tracked and recorded as they go about their daily business. Coupled with surveillance cameras that blanket the country, facial recognition technology allows the government and its corporate partners to identify and track someone’s movements in real-time. One particularly controversial software program created by Clearview AI has been used by police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to collect photos on social media sites for inclusion in a massive facial recognition database. Similarly, biometric software, which relies on one’s unique identifiers (fingerprints, irises, voice prints), is becoming the standard for navigating security lines, as well as bypassing digital locks and gaining access to phones, computers, office buildings, etc. In fact, greater numbers of travelers are opting into programs that rely on their biometrics in order to avoid long waits at airport security. Scientists are also developing lasers that can identify and surveil individuals based on their heartbeats, scent and microbiome.

Tracking you based on your behavior: Rapid advances in behavioral surveillance are not only making it possible for individuals to be monitored and tracked based on their patterns of movement or behavior, including gait recognition (the way one walks), but have given rise to whole industries that revolve around predicting one’s behavior based on data and surveillance patterns and are also shaping the behaviors of whole populations. One smart “anti-riot” surveillance system purports to predict mass riots and unauthorized public events by using artificial intelligence to analyze social media, news sources, surveillance video feeds and public transportation data.

Tracking you based on your spending and consumer activities: With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, every frequent buyer card we use for purchases—whether at the grocer’s, the yogurt shop, the airlines or the department store—and every credit and debit card we use to pay for our transactions, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time. Consumer surveillance, by which your activities and data in the physical and online realms are tracked and shared with advertisers, has become big business, a $300 billion industry that routinely harvests your data for profit. Corporations such as Target have not only been tracking and assessing the behavior of their customers, particularly their purchasing patterns, for years, but the retailer has also funded major surveillance in cities across the country and developed behavioral surveillance algorithms that can determine whether someone’s mannerisms might fit the profile of a thief.

Tracking you based on your public activities: Private corporations in conjunction with police agencies throughout the country have created a web of surveillance that encompasses all major cities in order to monitor large groups of people seamlessly, as in the case of protests and rallies. They are also engaging in extensive online surveillance, looking for any hints of “large public events, social unrest, gang communications, and criminally predicated individuals.” Defense contractors have been at the forefront of this lucrative market. Fusion centers, $330 million-a-year, information-sharing hubs for federal, state and law enforcement agencies, monitor and report such “suspicious” behavior as people buying pallets of bottled water, photographing government buildings, and applying for a pilot’s license as “suspicious activity.”

Tracking you based on your social media activities: Every move you make, especially on social media, is monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line. As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are increasingly investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior. This obsession with social media as a form of surveillance will have some frightening consequences in coming years. As Helen A.S. Popkin, writing for NBC News, observed, “We may very well face a future where algorithms bust people en masse for referencing illegal ‘Game of Thrones’ downloads… the new software has the potential to roll, Terminator-style, targeting every social media user with a shameful confession or questionable sense of humor.”

Tracking you based on your social network: Not content to merely spy on individuals through their online activity, government agencies are now using surveillance technology to track one’s social network, the people you might connect with by phone, text message, email or through social message, in order to ferret out possible criminals. An FBI document obtained by Rolling Stone speaks to the ease with which agents are able to access address book data from Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage services from the accounts of targeted individuals and individuals not under investigation who might have a targeted individual within their network. What this creates is a “guilt by association” society in which we are all as guilty as the most culpable person in our address book.

Tracking you based on your car: License plate readers are mass surveillance tools that can photograph over 1,800 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number and the date, time, and location of the picture in a searchable database, then share the data with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies to track the movements of persons in their cars. With tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country, affixed to overpasses, cop cars and throughout business sectors and residential neighborhoods, it allows police to track vehicles and run the plates through law enforcement databases for abducted children, stolen cars, missing people and wanted fugitives. Of course, the technology is not infallible: there have been numerous incidents in which police have mistakenly relied on license plate data to capture out suspects only to end up detaining innocent people at gunpoint.

Tracking you based on your mail: Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail for the past 20 years, is also spying on Americans’ texts, emails and social media posts. Headed up by the Postal Service’s law enforcement division, the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) is reportedly using facial recognition technology, combined with fake online identities, to ferret out potential troublemakers with “inflammatory” posts. The agency claims the online surveillance, which falls outside its conventional job scope of processing and delivering paper mail, is necessary to help postal workers avoid “potentially volatile situations.”

Now the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from these mass spying programs as long as we’ve done nothing wrong.

Don’t believe it.

The government’s definition of a “bad” guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, surveillance, digital stalking and the data mining of the American people—weapons of compliance and control in the government’s hands—haven’t made America any safer. And they certainly aren’t helping to preserve our freedoms.

Indeed, America will never be safe as long as the U.S. government is allowed to shred the Constitution.

Source: https://bit.ly/3VX6IYf

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary.”—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

If there is one point on which there should be no political parsing, no legal jockeying, and no disagreement, it is this: for anyone to advocate terminating or suspending the Constitution is tantamount to a declaration of war against the founding principles of our representative government and the rule of law.

Then again, one could well make the case that the Constitution has already been terminated after years on life support, given the extent to which the safeguards enshrined in the Bill of Rights—adopted 231 years ago as a means of protecting the people against government overreach and abuse—have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts.

Consider for yourself.

We are in the grip of martial law. We have what the founders feared most: a “standing” or permanent army on American soil. This de facto standing army is made up of weaponized, militarized domestic police forces which look like, dress like, and act like the military; are armed with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment; are authorized to make arrests; and are trained in military tactics.

We are in the government’s crosshairs. The U.S. government continues to act as judge, jury and executioner over a populace that have been pre-judged and found guilty, stripped of their rights, and left to suffer at the hands of government agents trained to respond with the utmost degree of violence. Consequently, we are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.” With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by the government’s standing army of militarized police who shoot first and ask questions later.

We are no longer safe in our homes. This present menace comes from the government’s army of bureaucratized, corporatized, militarized SWAT teams who are waging war on the last stronghold left to us as a free people: the sanctity of our homes.

We have no real freedom of speech. We are moving fast down a slippery slope to an authoritarian society in which the only opinions, ideas and speech expressed are the ones permitted by the government and its corporate cohorts. In more and more cases, the government is declaring war on what should be protected political speech whenever it challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices. The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American who criticizes the government an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.

We have no real privacy. We’re being spied on by a domestic army of government snitches, spies and techno-warriors. This government of Peeping Toms is watching everything we do, reading everything we write, listening to everything we say, and monitoring everything we spend. Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and catalogued, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

We are losing our right to bodily privacy and integrity. The debate over bodily integrity covers broad territory, ranging from forced vaccinations, forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws and forced breath-alcohol tests to forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, and forced inclusion in biometric databases: these are just a few ways in which Americans continue to be reminded that we have no real privacy, no real presumption of innocence, and no real control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials. The groundwork being laid with these mandates is a prologue to what will become the police state’s conquest of a new, relatively uncharted, frontier: inner space, specifically, the inner workings (genetic, biological, biometric, mental, emotional) of the human race.

We no longer have a right to private property. If government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure—it belongs to the government. Hard-working Americans are having their bank accounts, homes, cars electronics and cash seized by police under the assumption that they have allegedly been associated with some criminal scheme.

We have no due process. The groundwork has been laid for a new kind of government where it won’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty, whether you’re a threat to the nation, or even if you’re a citizen. What will matter is what the government—or whoever happens to be calling the shots at the time—thinks. And if the powers-that-be think you’re a threat to the nation and should be locked up, then you’ll be locked up with no access to the protections our Constitution provides.

We are no longer presumed innocent. The burden of proof has been reversed. Now we’re presumed guilty unless we can prove our innocence beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Rarely, are we even given the opportunity to do so. The government has embarked on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database. Having already used surveillance technology to render the entire American populace potential suspects, DNA technology in the hands of government coupled with artificial intelligence will complete our transition to a suspect society in which we are all merely waiting to be matched up with a crime.

We have lost the right to be anonymous and move about freely.  At every turn, we’re hemmed in by laws, fines and penalties that regulate and restrict our autonomy, and surveillance cameras that monitor our movements. Likewise, digital currency provides the government and its corporate partners with a mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

We no longer have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In fact, a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism—a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere subjects to be controlled.

We have no guardians of justice. The courts were established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency, the courts have become the guardians of the American police state in which we now live. As a result, sound judgment and justice have largely taken a back seat to legalism, statism and elitism, while preserving the rights of the people has been deprioritized and made to play second fiddle to both governmental and corporate interests.

We have been saddled with a dictator for life. Secret, unchecked presidential powers—acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president—now enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, we have done this to ourselves.

We allowed ourselves to be seduced by the false siren song of politicians promising safety in exchange for relinquished freedom. We placed our trust in political saviors and failed to ask questions to hold our representatives accountable to abiding by the Constitution. We looked the other way and made excuses while the government amassed an amazing amount of power over us, and backed up that power-grab with a terrifying amount of military might and weaponry, and got the courts to sanction their actions every step of the way. We chose to let partisan politics divide us and turn us into easy targets for the government’s oppression.

Mind you, the powers-that-be want us to be censored, silenced, muzzled, gagged, zoned out, caged in and shut down. They want our speech and activities monitored for any sign of “extremist” activity. They want us to be estranged from each other and kept at a distance from those who are supposed to represent us. They want taxation without representation. They want a government without the consent of the governed.

They want the Constitution terminated.

“We” may have contributed to our downfall through our inaction and gullibility, but we are also the only hope for a free future.

After all, the Constitution begins with those three beautiful words, “We the people.” Those three words were intended as a reminder to future generations that there is no government without us—our sheer numbers, our muscle, our economy, our physical presence in this land.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, when we forget that, when we allow the “Me” of a self-absorbed, narcissistic, politically polarizing culture to override our civic duties as citizens to collectively stand up to tyranny and make the government play by the rules of the Constitution, there can be no surprise when tyranny rises and freedom falls

Remember, there is power in numbers.

There are 332 million of us in this country. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actually worked together, presented a united front, and spoke with one voice?

Source: https://bit.ly/3h6J3FC

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“All the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible… In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”—C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

There will come a time in the not-so-distant future when the very act of thinking for ourselves is not just outlawed but unthinkable.

We are being shunted down the road to that dystopian future right now, propelled along by politically correct forces that, while they may have started out with the best of intentions, have fallen prey to the authoritarian siren song of the Nanny State, which has promised to save the populace from evils that only a select few are wise enough to recognize as such.

As a result, we are being infantilized ad nauseum, dictated to incessantly, and forcefully insulated from “dangerous” sights and sounds and ideas that we are supposedly too fragile, too vulnerable, too susceptible, or too ignorant to be exposed to without protection from the so-called elite.

Having concluded that “we the people” cannot be trusted to think for ourselves, the powers-that-be have taken it upon themselves to re-order our world into one in which they do the thinking for us, and all we have to do is fall is line.

Those who do not fall in line with this government-sanctioned group think—who resist, who dare to think for themselves, who dare to adopt views that are different, or possibly wrong or hateful—are branded as extremists, belligerents, and deplorables, and shunned, censored and silenced.

The fallout is as one would expect.

Cancel culture—political correctness amped up on steroids, the self-righteousness of a narcissistic age, and a mass-marketed pseudo-morality that is little more than fascism disguised as tolerance—has shifted us into an Age of Intolerance, policed by techno-censors, social media bullies, and government watchdogs.

Everything is now fair game for censorship if it can be construed as hateful, hurtful, bigoted or offensive provided that it runs counter to the established viewpoint.

In this way, the most controversial issues of our day—race, religion, sex, sexuality, politics, science, health, government corruption, police brutality, etc.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom (of religion, speech, assembly, press, redress, privacy, bodily integrity, etc.) but only when it favors the views and positions they support.

The latest victim of this rigid re-ordering of the world into one in which vestiges of past mistakes are scrubbed from existence comes from the New York Department of Education, which has ordered schools to stop using Native American references in mascots, team names and logos by the end of the current school year or face penalties including a loss of state aid.

Citing concerns about racism and a need to comply with the state’s Dignity for All Students Act, which requires schools to create environments free of harassment or discrimination, New York officials are telling communities—many of which are named after Native American tribes—that longstanding cultural associations with their towns’ Indian namesakes are offensive and shameful.

More than 100 schools in 60 school districts across New York State have nicknames or mascots that reference Native Americans. The cost to divest their communities of such branded names and images will be significant. One school district estimates that the cost to remove its Indians imagery from the gym floor alone will be upwards of $60,000.

This drive to sanitize New York schools of “offensive” Native American logos and imagery comes on the heels of iconoclastic campaigns to rid the country of anything and anyone that may offend modern-day sensibilities.

Monuments have been torn down, schools and streets have been renamed, and the names of benefactors stripped from prominent signage in the quest for a more enlightened age.

These are not new tactics.

Since the days of the Byzantine Empire, when “Emperor Leo III ordered the destruction of all Christian images on the grounds that they represented idolatry and were heretical,” political movements have resorted to destroying monuments, statues and imagery of the day as a visual means of exerting their power and vanquishing their enemies.

We have been caught in this intolerant, self-righteous, destructive, mob-driven cycle of book-burning, statue-toppling, history-erasing iconoclasm ever since.

As art critic Alexander Adams explains:

“Iconoclasm is an activity evenly distributed between both left and right of the political spectrum, mainly at the extreme ends… The intolerant ideology, which refuses to accept the co-existence of alternative views, takes the stance that…the ideals within the art are no longer utterable or supportable: they are actually injurious and dangerous to the vulnerable… The political activist reserves to himself the right to retrospectively edit our history for his satisfaction by removing monuments, those fixtures of civic life, embedded in the memories of generations… Iconoclasm is an expression of domination and a demonstration of willingness to act—illegally and unethically—to impose the will of one group over an entire population. It asserts control over all aspects of society… The campaigner argues that public art, accumulated piecemeal over 1,000 years of history, must reflect our society and values today—even if that means altering or erasing stories of the values our past society expressed via its monuments, or suppressing evidence of how we arrived at our current situation… The iconoclast believes that it is only the values of today that count—that it is only her values that count. She takes it upon herself to correct history through monstrous acts of egotism. That correction, when it involves destruction, permanently alters the cultural legacy. It shrinks the breadth of human experience available to the generations which follow ours.”

In such a world, there can be no debate, no journey to understanding, no chance to learn from one’s mistakes or even make mistakes that are uniquely your own; there is only obedience and compliance to the government, its corporate overlords and the prevailing mob mindset.

Censorship, cancel culture, political correctness, woke-ism, hate speech, intolerance: whatever label you assign to this overzealous drive to sanitize the culture of anything that might be deemed offensive or disturbing or challenging, be assured they are sign posts on a one-way road to graver dangers marked by “suppression, persecution, expulsion and the massacring of people.”

Whether those smashing monuments and erasing history are doing so for noble purposes or more diabolical reasons, the end results are the same: criminalization, confiscation, imprisonment, exile and genocide.

“Look at mobs which gather to smash monuments,” says Adams. “These monuments may be the statues of deposed dictators who terrorized populations, causing untold death and suffering. They may be monuments to fallen soldiers who died defending causes that are no longer fashionable. The mob’s anger is the same. The viciousness and triumphant celebrations are the same. Only the causes differ in seriousness, topicality and justification.”

Adams continues:

“The Civil War statue destroyers think they are assaulting the posterity of slave owners, but they themselves are in the grip of ideological fervor. They are unaware that they are running a biological code, hardwired in their brains by evolution and activated by political extremists. The activists of today heedlessly erase history they haven’t yet learned to read. They act as the hammer that extremists use to deface the cathedrals and museums our ancestors built.”

What’s different about this present age, however, is the use of technology to censor, silence, delete, label as “hateful,” demonize and destroy those whose viewpoints run counter to the cultural elite.

“In the last few years,” writes Nina Powers for Art Review, “what is understood to be contentious has become increasingly broadly defined… The range of what counts as acceptable gets smaller and smaller… [W]e thus find ourselves… in the midst of a new culture war in which the freedom to think, feel and express ourselves comes at the risk of economic impoverishment, social ostracism and mob justice.”

Where this leads is the stuff of dystopian nightmares: societies that value conformity and group-think over individuality; a populace so adept at self-censorship and compliance that they are capable only of obeying the government’s dictates without the ability to parse out whether those dictates should be obeyed; and a language limited to government-speak.

This is what happens when the voices of the majority are allowed to eliminate those in the minority, and it is exactly why James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

Freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society.

The alternative, as depicted in Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, is a world in which individuality and the ability to think for oneself independent of the government and the populace are eradicated, where even the word “I” has been eliminated from the vocabulary, replaced by the collective “we.”

As Anthem’s narrator Equality 7-2521 explains, “It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. . . . And well we know that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone.”

As I make clear in Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we are not merely losing the ability to think critically for ourselves and, in turn, to govern our inner and outer worlds, we are also in danger of losing the right to do so.

The government’s war on thought crimes and truth-tellers is just the beginning.

Source: https://bit.ly/3TYn3du

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they’re people just like you. You’re wrong. Dead wrong.” — They Live 

We’re living in two worlds.

There’s the world we see (or are made to see) and then there’s the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America—privileged, progressive and free—is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and “freedom,” such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police and federal agents armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

Monsters with human faces walk among us. Many of them work for the U.S. government.

This is the premise of John Carpenter’s film They Live, which was released in November 1988 and remains unnervingly, chillingly appropriate for our modern age.

Best known for his horror film Halloween, which assumes that there is a form of evil so dark that it can’t be killed, Carpenter’s larger body of work is infused with a strong anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, laconic bent that speaks to the filmmaker’s concerns about the unraveling of our society, particularly our government.

Time and again, Carpenter portrays the government working against its own citizens, a populace out of touch with reality, technology run amok, and a future more horrific than any horror film.

In Escape from New York, Carpenter presents fascism as the future of America.

In The Thing, a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name, Carpenter presupposes that increasingly we are all becoming dehumanized.

In Christine, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a demon-possessed car, technology exhibits a will and consciousness of its own and goes on a murderous rampage.

In In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter notes that evil grows when people lose “the ability to know the difference between reality and fantasy.”

And then there is Carpenter’s They Live, in which two migrant workers discover that the world is not as it seems. In fact, the population is actually being controlled and exploited by aliens working in partnership with an oligarchic elite. All the while, the populace—blissfully unaware of the real agenda at work in their lives—has been lulled into complacency, indoctrinated into compliance, bombarded with media distractions, and hypnotized by subliminal messages beamed out of television and various electronic devices, billboards and the like.

It is only when homeless drifter John Nada (played to the hilt by the late Roddy Piper) discovers a pair of doctored sunglasses—Hoffman lenses—that Nada sees what lies beneath the elite’s fabricated reality: control and bondage.

When viewed through the lens of truth, the elite, who appear human until stripped of their disguises, are shown to be monsters who have enslaved the citizenry in order to prey on them.

Likewise, billboards blare out hidden, authoritative messages: a bikini-clad woman in one ad is actually ordering viewers to “MARRY AND REPRODUCE.” Magazine racks scream “CONSUME” and “OBEY.” A wad of dollar bills in a vendor’s hand proclaims, “THIS IS YOUR GOD.”

When viewed through Nada’s Hoffman lenses, some of the other hidden messages being drummed into the people’s subconscious include: NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, CONFORM, SUBMIT, STAY ASLEEP, BUY, WATCH TV, NO IMAGINATION, and DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY.

This indoctrination campaign engineered by the elite in They Live is painfully familiar to anyone who has studied the decline of American culture.

A citizenry that does not think for themselves, obeys without question, is submissive, does not challenge authority, does not think outside the box, and is content to sit back and be entertained is a citizenry that can be easily controlled.

In this way, the subtle message of They Live provides an apt analogy of our own distorted vision of life in the American police state, what philosopher Slavoj Žižek refers to as dictatorship in democracy, “the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom.”

We’re being fed a series of carefully contrived fictions that bear no resemblance to reality.

Tune out the government’s attempts to distract, divert and befuddle us and tune into what’s really going on in this country, and you’ll run headlong into an unmistakable, unpalatable truth: what we are dealing with today is an authoritarian beast that has outgrown its chains and will not be restrained.

Through its acts of power grabs, brutality, meanness, inhumanity, immorality, greed, corruption, debauchery and tyranny, the government has become almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism, torture, disease, drug traffickingsex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

We have let the government’s evil-doing and abuses go on for too long.

We’re being fed a series of carefully contrived fictions that bear no resemblance to reality.

Despite the fact that we are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack; 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane; 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack, and 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist , we have handed over control of our lives to government officials who treat us as a means to an end—the source of money and power.

As the Bearded Man in They Live warns, “They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery.”

We have bought into the illusion and refused to grasp the truth.

From the moment we are born until we die, we are indoctrinated into believing that those who rule us do it for our own good. The truth is far different.

The powers-that-be want us to feel threatened by forces beyond our control (terrorists, pandemics, mass shootings, etc.).

They want us afraid and dependent on the government and its militarized armies for our safety and well-being.

They want us distrustful of each other, divided by our prejudices, and at each other’s throats.

Most of all, they want us to continue to march in lockstep with their dictates as fearful, controlled, pacified zombies.

This brings me back to They Live, in which the real zombies are not the aliens calling the shots but the populace who are content to remain controlled.

When all is said and done, the world of They Live is not so different from our own. As one of the characters points out, “The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into a trance. They have made us indifferent to ourselves, to others. We are focused only on our own gain.”

We, too, are focused only on our own pleasures, prejudices and gains. Our poor and underclasses are also growing. Injustice is growing. Inequality is growing. A concern for human rights is nearly nonexistent. We too have been lulled into a trance, indifferent to others.

Oblivious to what lies ahead, we’ve been manipulated into believing that if we continue to consume, obey, and have faith, things will work out. But that’s never been true of emerging regimes. And by the time we feel the hammer coming down upon us, it will be too late.

So where does that leave us?

The characters who populate Carpenter’s films provide some insight.

Underneath their machismo, they still believe in the ideals of liberty and equal opportunity. Their beliefs place them in constant opposition with the law and the establishment, but they are nonetheless freedom fighters.

When, for example, John Nada destroys the alien hypno-transmitter in They Live, he delivers a wake-up call for freedom. As Nada memorably declares, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum.”

In other words: we need to get active and take a stand for what’s really important.

Stop allowing yourselves to be easily distracted by pointless political spectacles and pay attention to what’s really going on in the country.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the real battle for control of this nation is taking place on roadsides, in police cars, on witness stands, over phone lines, in government offices, in corporate offices, in public school hallways and classrooms, in parks and city council meetings, and in towns and cities across this country.

All the trappings of the American police state are now in plain sight.

Wake up, America.

If they live (the tyrants, the oppressors, the invaders, the overlords), it is only because “we the people” sleep.

Source: https://bit.ly/3F9UYw4

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“You know, when police start becoming their own executioners, where’s it gonna end? Pretty soon, you’ll start executing people for jaywalking, and executing people for traffic violations. Then you end up executing your neighbor ‘cause his dog pisses on your lawn.”—“Dirty Harry” Callahan, Magnum Force

When I say that warrior cops—hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge—have not made America any safer or freer, I am not disrespecting any of the fine, decent, lawful police officers who take seriously their oath of office to serve and protect their fellow citizens, uphold the Constitution, and maintain the peace.

My concern rests with the cops who feel empowered to act as judge, jury and executioner.

These death squads believe they can kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.

Just recently, in fact, a rookie cop opened fire on the occupants of a parked car in a McDonald’s parking lot on a Sunday night in San Antonio, Texas.

The driver, 17-year-old Erik Cantu and his girlfriend, were eating burgers inside the car when the police officer—suspecting the car might have been one that fled an attempted traffic stop the night before—abruptly opened the driver side door, ordered the teenager to get out, and when he did not comply, shot ten times at the car, hitting Cantu multiple times.

Mind you, this wasn’t a life-or-death situation.

It was two teenagers eating burgers in a parking lot, and a cop fresh out of the police academy taking justice into his own hands.

This wasn’t an isolated incident, either.

In Hugo, Oklahoma, plain clothes police officers opened fire on a pickup truck parked in front of a food bank, heedless of the damage such a hail of bullets—26 shots were fired—could have on those in the vicinity. Three of the four children inside the parked vehicle were shot: a 4-year-old girl was shot in the head and ended up with a bullet in the brain; a 5-year-old boy received a skull fracture; and a 1-year-old girl had deep cuts on her face from gunfire or shattered window glass. The reason for the use of such excessive force? Police were searching for a suspect in a weeks-old robbery of a pizza parlor that netted $400.

In Minnesota, a 4-year-old girl watched from the backseat of a car as cops shot and killed her mother’s boyfriend, Philando Castile, a school cafeteria supervisor, during a routine traffic stop merely because Castile disclosed that he had a gun in his possession, for which he had a lawful conceal-and-carry permit. That’s all it took for police to shoot Castile four times as he was reaching for his license and registration. 

In Arizona, a 7-year-old girl watched panic-stricken as a state trooper pointed his gun at her and her father during a traffic stop and reportedly threated to shoot her father in the back (twice) based on the mistaken belief that they were driving a stolen rental car.

This is how we have gone from a nation of laws—where the least among us had just as much right to be treated with dignity and respect as the next person (in principle, at least)—to a nation of law enforcers (revenue collectors with weapons) who treat the citizenry like suspects and criminals.

The lesson for all of us: at a time when police have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”—and a “fear” for officer safety is used to justify all manner of police misconduct—“we the people” are at a severe disadvantage.

Add a traffic stop to the mix, and that disadvantage increases dramatically.

According to the Justice Department, the most common reason for a citizen to come into contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop.

On average, one in 10 Americans gets pulled over by police.

Of the roughly 1,100 people killed by police each year, 10% of those involve traffic stops.

Historically, police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons.

This free-handed approach to traffic stops has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long.

Motorists can also be stopped by police for driving near a bar or on a road that has large amounts of drunk driving, driving a certain make of car (Mercedes, Grand Prix and Hummers are among the most ticketed vehicles), having anything dangling from the rearview mirror (air fresheners, handicap parking permits, toll transponders or rosaries), and displaying pro-police bumper stickers.

Incredibly, a federal appeals court actually ruled unanimously in 2014 that acne scars and driving with a stiff upright posture are reasonable grounds for being pulled over. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that driving a vehicle that has a couple air fresheners, rosaries and pro-police bumper stickers at 2 MPH over the speed limit is suspicious, meriting a traffic stop.

Equally appalling, in Heien v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court—which has largely paved the way for the police and other government agents to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance—allowed police officers to stop drivers who appear nervous, provided they provide a palatable pretext for doing so.

Black drivers are almost two times more likely than white drivers to be pulled over by police and three times more likely to have their vehicles searched. As the Washington Post concludes, “‘Driving while black’ is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon.”

In other words, drivers beware.

Traffic stops aren’t just dangerous. They can be downright deadly.

Patrick Lyoya was pulled over for having a mismatched license plate. The unarmed man was shot in the back of the head while on the ground during a subsequent struggle with a Michigan police officer.

Reportedly pulled over for a broken taillight, Walter Scott—unarmed—ran away from the police officer, who pursued and shot him from behind, first with a Taser, then with a gun. Scott was struck five times, “three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear — with at least one bullet entering his heart.”

Samuel Dubose, also unarmed, was pulled over for a missing front license plate. He was reportedly shot in the head after a brief struggle in which his car began rolling forward.

Levar Jones was stopped for a seatbelt offense, just as he was getting out of his car to enter a convenience store. Directed to show his license, Jones leaned into his car to get his wallet, only to be shot four times by the “fearful” officer. Jones was also unarmed.

Bobby Canipe was pulled over for having an expired registration. When the 70-year-old reached into the back of his truck for his walking cane, the officer fired several shots at him, hitting him once in the abdomen.

Dontrell Stevens was stopped “for not bicycling properly.” The officer pursuing him “thought the way Stephens rode his bike was suspicious. He thought the way Stephens got off his bike was suspicious.” Four seconds later, sheriff’s deputy Adams Lin shot Stephens four times as he pulled out a black object from his waistband. The object was his cell phone. Stephens was unarmed.

That police are choosing to fatally resolve these encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are being dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.”

Keep in mind, from the moment those lights start flashing and that siren goes off, we’re all in the same boat. Yet it’s what happens after you’ve been pulled over that’s critical.

Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.

Survival is key.

Technically, you have the right to remain silent (beyond the basic requirement to identify yourself and show your registration). You have the right to refuse to have your vehicle searched. You have the right to film your interaction with police. You have the right to ask to leave. You also have the right to resist an unlawful order such as a police officer directing you to extinguish your cigarette, put away your phone or stop recording them.

However, there is a price for asserting one’s rights. That price grows more costly with every passing day.

If you ask cops and their enablers what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with police, they will tell you to comply, cooperate, obey, not resist, not argue, not make threatening gestures or statements, avoid sudden movements, and submit to a search of their person and belongings. 

Unfortunately, in the American police state, compliance is no guarantee that you will survive an encounter with the police with your life and liberties intact.

Every day we hear about situations in which unarmed Americans complied and still died during an encounter with police simply because they appeared to be standing in a “shooting stance” or held a cell phone or a garden hose or carried around a baseball bat or answered the front door or held a spoon in a threatening manner or ran in an aggressive manner holding a tree branch or wandered around naked or hunched over in a defensive posture or made the mistake of wearing the same clothes as a carjacking suspect (dark pants and a basketball jersey) or dared to leave an area at the same time that a police officer showed up or had a car break down by the side of the road or were deaf or homeless or old.

More often than not, it seems as if all you have to do to be shot and killed by police is stand a certain way, or move a certain way, or hold something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or ignite some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Now politicians, police unions, law enforcement officials and individuals who are more than happy to march in lockstep with the police state make all kinds of excuses to justify these shootings.  However, to suggest that a good citizen is a compliant citizen and that obedience will save us from the police state is not only recklessly irresponsible, but it is also deluded.

To begin with, and most importantly, Americans need to know their rights when it comes to interactions with the police, bearing in mind that many law enforcement officials are largely ignorant of the law themselves.

A good resource is The Rutherford Institute’s “Constitutional Q&A: Rules of Engagement for Interacting with Police.”

In a nutshell, the following are your basic rights when it comes to interactions with the police as outlined in the Bill of Rights:

You have the right under the First Amendment to ask questions and express yourself. You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to not have your person or your property searched by police or any government agent unless they have a search warrant authorizing them to do so.  You have the right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent, to not incriminate yourself and to request an attorney. Depending on which state you live in and whether your encounter with police is consensual as opposed to your being temporarily detained or arrested, you may have the right to refuse to identify yourself. Not all states require citizens to show their ID to an officer (although drivers in all states must do so).

As a rule of thumb, you should always be sure to clarify in any police encounter whether or not you are being detained, i.e., whether you have the right to walk away. That holds true whether it’s a casual “show your ID” request on a boardwalk, a stop-and-frisk search on a city street, or a traffic stop for speeding or just to check your insurance. If you feel like you can’t walk away from a police encounter of your own volition—and more often than not you can’t, especially when you’re being confronted by someone armed to the hilt with all manner of militarized weaponry and gear—then for all intents and purposes, you’re essentially under arrest from the moment a cop stops you. Still, it doesn’t hurt to clarify that distinction.

While technology is always going to be a double-edged sword, with the gadgets that are the most useful to us in our daily lives—GPS devices, cell phones, the internet—being the very tools used by the government to track us, monitor our activities, and generally spy on us, cell phones are particularly useful for recording encounters with the police and have proven to be increasingly powerful reminders to police that they are not all powerful.

Knowing your rights is only part of the battle, unfortunately.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the danger arises when the burden of proof is reversed, “we the people” are assumed guilty, and we have to exercise our rights while simultaneously attempting to prove our innocence to trigger-happy cops with no understanding of the Bill of Rights.

Source: https://bit.ly/3ThwQeZ

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” — Abraham Lincoln

It’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation.

We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.

It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.

So where does that leave us?

Benjamin Franklin provided the answer. As the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trudged out of Independence Hall on September 17, 1787, an anxious woman in the crowd waiting at the entrance inquired of Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”

What Franklin meant, of course, is that when all is said and done, we get the government we deserve.

Those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. It is there to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them.

Unfortunately, although the Bill of Rights was adopted as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, in America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

“We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.

The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, a viral pandemic, and more to come), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called name of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts.

A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, vaccine mandates, lockdowns, and the like (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, and the courts)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

What we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Sadly, most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights.

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution, twenty-plus years after 9/11 and with the nation just emerging from two years of COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being persecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights and speaking out against government corruption. Activists are being arrested and charged for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a so-called government forum.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against red flag gun laws, militarized police, SWAT team raids, and government agencies armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited to the battlefield.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or encroaching on your private property unless they have evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of governmental police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise), and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts.

Thus, if there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.

It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” As the Preamble proclaims:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

In other words, it’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the Constitution.

We are supposed to be the masters and they—the government and its agents—are the servants.

We the American people—the citizenry—are supposed to be the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.

Still, it’s hard to be a good citizen if you don’t know anything about your rights or how the government is supposed to operate.

As the National Review rightly asks, “How can Americans possibly make intelligent and informed political choices if they don’t understand the fundamental structure of their government? American citizens have the right to self-government, but it seems that we increasingly lack the capacity for it.”

Americans are constitutionally illiterate.

Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights. And our educational system does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For instance, a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that a little more than one-third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, while another one-third (35 percent) could not name a single one.

A survey by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that only one out of a thousand adults could identify the five rights protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, more than half (52%) of the respondents could name at least two of the characters in the animated Simpsons television family, and 20% could name all five. And although half could name none of the freedoms in the First Amendment, a majority (54%) could name at least one of the three judges on the TV program American Idol, 41% could name two and one-fourth could name all three.

It gets worse.

Many who responded to the survey had a strange conception of what was in the First Amendment. For example, a startling number of respondents believed that the “right to own a pet” and the “right to drive a car” were part of the First Amendment. Another 38% believed that “taking the Fifth” was part of the First Amendment.

Teachers and school administrators do not fare much better. A study conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis found that one educator in five was unable to name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment.

Government leaders and politicians are also ill-informed. Although they take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution against “enemies foreign and domestic,” their lack of education about our fundamental rights often causes them to be enemies of the Bill of Rights.

So what’s the solution?

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a citizenry educated on “their rights, interests, and duties”  is the only real assurance that freedom will survive.

As Jefferson wrote in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of our society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

From the President on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. One way to ensure this would be to require government leaders to take a course on the Constitution and pass a thorough examination thereof before being allowed to take office.

Some critics are advocating that students pass the United States citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school. Others recommend that it must be a prerequisite for attending college. I’d go so far as to argue that students should have to pass the citizenship exam before graduating from grade school.

Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card. Use this card to teach your children the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.

A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to do more than grouse and complain.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” have the power to make and break the government.

The powers-that-be want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own. They also want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day.

Yet there are 330 million of us in this country. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actually worked together, presented a united front, and spoke with one voice.

Tyranny wouldn’t stand a chance.

Source: https://bit.ly/3Dqg3kT

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission

John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”—H.L. Mencken

First came 9/11, which the government used to transform itself into a police state.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which the police state used to test out its lockdown powers.

In light of the government’s tendency to exploit crises (legitimate or manufactured) and capitalize on the nation’s heightened emotions, confusion and fear as a means of extending the reach of the police state, one has to wonder what so-called crisis it will declare next.

It’s a simple enough formula: first, you create fear, then you capitalize on it by seizing power.

Frankly, it doesn’t even matter what the nature of the next national emergency might be (terrorism, civil unrest, economic collapse, a health scare, or the environment) as long as it allows the government to lockdown the nation and justify all manner of tyranny in the so-called name of national security.

Cue the Emergency State.

Terrorist attacks, mass shootings, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters”: the government has been anticipating and preparing for such crises for years now.

As David C. Unger writes for the New York Times: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.”

Here’s what we know: given the rate at which the government keeps devising new ways to establish itself as the “solution” to all of our worldly problems at taxpayer expense, each subsequent crisis ushers in ever larger expansions of government power and less individual liberty.

This is the slippery slope to outright tyranny.

You see, once the government acquires (and uses) authoritarian powers—to spy on its citizens, to carry out surveillance, to transform its police forces into extensions of the military, to seize taxpayer funds, to wage endless wars, to censor and silence dissidents, to identify potential troublemakers, to detain citizens without due process—it does not voluntarily relinquish them.

The lesson for the ages is this: once any government is allowed to overreach and expand its powers, it’s almost impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. As Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe recognizes, “The dictatorial hunger for power is insatiable.

Indeed, the history of the United States is a testament to the old adage that liberty decreases as government (and government bureaucracy) grows. To put it another way, as government expands, liberty contracts.

In this way, every crisis since the nation’s early beginnings has become a make-work opportunity for the government.

Each crisis has also been a test to see how far “we the people” would allow the government to sidestep the Constitution in the so-called name of national security; a test to see how well we have assimilated the government’s lessons in compliance, fear and police state tactics; a test to see how quickly we’ll march in lockstep with the government’s dictates, no questions asked; and a test to see how little resistance we offer up to the government’s power grabs when made in the name of national security.

Most critically of all, it has been a test to see whether the Constitution—and our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights—could survive a national crisis and true state of emergency.

Unfortunately, we’ve been failing this particular test for a long time now.

Indeed, the powers-that-be have been pushing our buttons and herding us along like so much cattle since World War II, at least, starting with the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, which not only propelled the U.S. into World War II but also unified the American people in their opposition to a common enemy.

That fear of attack by foreign threats, conveniently torqued by the growing military industrial complex, in turn gave rise to the Cold War era’s “Red Scare.” Promulgated through government propaganda, paranoia and manipulation, anti-Communist sentiments boiled over into a mass hysteria that viewed anyone and everyone as suspect: your friends, the next-door neighbor, even your family members could be a Communist subversive.

This hysteria, which culminated in hearings before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where hundreds of Americans were called before Congress to testify about their so-called Communist affiliations and intimidated into making false confessions, also paved the way for the rise of an all-knowing, all-seeing governmental surveillance state.

By the time 9/11 rolled around, all George W. Bush had to do was claim the country was being invaded by terrorists, and the government used the USA Patriot Act to claim greater powers to spy, search, detain and arrest American citizens in order to keep America safe.

By way of the National Defense Authorization Act, Barack Obama continued Bush’s trend of undermining the Constitution, going so far as to give the military the power to strip Americans of their constitutional rights, label them extremists, and detain them indefinitely without trialall in the name of keeping America safe.

Despite the fact that the breadth of the military’s power to detain American citizens violates not only U.S. law and the Constitution but also international laws, the government has refused to relinquish its detention powers made possible by the NDAA.

Then Donald Trump took office, claiming the country was being invaded by dangerous immigrants and insisting that the only way to keep America safe was to expand the reach of the border police, empower the military to “assist” with border control, and essentially turn the country into a Constitution-free zone.

That so-called immigration crisis then morphed into multiple crises (domestic extremism, the COVID-19 pandemic, race wars, civil unrest, etc.) that the government has been eager to use in order to expand its powers.

Joe Biden, in turn, has made every effort to expand the reach of the militarized police state, pledging to hire 87,000 more IRS agents and 100,000 police officers. Read between the lines and you’ll find that Biden has all but declared war on the American people.

What the next crisis will be is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure that there will be a next crisis.

So, what should you expect if the government decides to declare another state of emergency and institutes a nationwide lockdown?

You should expect more of the same, only worse.

More compliance, less resistance.

More fear-mongering, mind-control tactics and less tolerance for those who question the government’s propaganda-driven narratives.

Most of all, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, you should expect more tyranny and less freedom.

There’s every reason to worry about what comes next.

Certainly, the government’s past track record and its long-anticipated plans for instituting martial law (using armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems) in response to a future crisis are cause enough to worry about the government’s handling of the next “crisis.”

Mark my words: if and when another nationwide lockdown finally hits—if and when we are forced to shelter in place— if and when militarized police are patrolling the streets— if and when security checkpoints have been established— if and when the media’s ability to broadcast the news has been curtailed by government censors—if and when public systems of communication (phone lines, internet, text messaging, etc.) have been restricted—if and when those FEMA camps the government has been surreptitiously building finally get used as detention centers for American citizens—if and when military “snatch and grab” teams are deployed on local, state, and federal levels as part of the activated Continuity of Government plans to isolate anyone suspected of being a threat to national security—and if and when martial law is enacted with little real outcry or resistance from the public—then we will truly understand the extent to which the government has fully succeeded in acclimating us to a state of affairs in which the government has all the power and “we the people” have none. 

Source: https://bit.ly/3x3ViHU

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

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