Archive for February 8th, 2013

Arbitrary rule has its basis, not in the strength of the state or the chief, but in the moral weakness of the individual, who submits almost without resistance to the domineering power.  –  Friedrich Hatzel

I could have started this essay with the famous Martin Niemöller “first they came for the communists” quote, but I’ve already used it; besides, this one makes an important point the other doesn’t.  The apathy implied by Niemöller is only part of the reason people sit idly by while governments persecute others, and there is another, darker aspect to which Hatzel alludes with the phrase “moral weakness”:  by and large, people tend to ignore evil as long as it’s being inflicted on those they don’t like.  That holds true whether the perpetrator is a government, a collective group such as a religion, corporation or political party, a government actor such as a prosecutor or cop, an official of any collective group, or an individual perceived as an “authority” due to education, fame or whatever.  As long as those being systematically persecuted, insulted, vilified, excluded, abused, assaulted, robbed, imprisoned or even murdered are the “bad guys”, the outsiders, the pariahs or even just “Not Our Kind, Dear,”  most people are too morally weak to stand up for them even if they recognize the harm inflicted upon them as an evil.

Frankenstein - angry mobTyrants are well-aware of this, which is why campaigns to increase authoritarian control always start with some group who are hated or feared by many in that society (such as ethnic, religious, political or sexual minorities).  “Criminals” are a popular target, and an especially effective one because it’s so very easy to create them by simply passing a law against some consensual behavior and then inventing myths about why those who break those laws are subhuman  and therefore deserving of maltreatment.  American “authorities” have become very good at this in the past few decades, and nearly every demonized group now falls into at least two categories at once:  “sex offenders” are both criminals and sex minorities; “terrorists” are both criminals and religious minorities, etc.  Whores are the most perfect victims of all: the “sex trafficking” narrative wraps criminals, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and foreigners into one tidy package and tops it off with “children” to “rescue”.

After the legal precedent for violating a particular right is established with outcasts, it is easily extended to merely marginalized groups, and eventually to everyone (because you never know where those dirty witches/terrorists/sex traffickers/drug users/child molesters might be hiding; they look just like real people!)  And by the time members of the majority group finally begin to wake up all the cops are armed with tanks and machine guns and the judges have given them carte blanche to invade, steal, assault, violate, maim and kill.  The time to speak up was when the rhetoric started, when the hatemongers were still just talking and the politicians had not yet recognized the target of their venom as a “safe” one.  While most of the young men being thrown into cages to rot were black and Hispanic, white America couldn’t be bothered to question the morality of mass incarceration.  While most of the victims of prosecutorial overreach were businessmen and professionals on the one hand and poor minorities on the other, hardworking blue-collar folks indulged in the modern equivalent of jeering and throwing overripe fruit.  While organized “feminism” was only subjecting sex workers, “rapists” and “deadbeat dads” to its aggressive smear campaigns and systematically destroying important legal principles (such as presumption of innocence, witness confrontation and equal protection) only in sex-related cases, American women cheered them on and shouted down those who questioned their actions.  And when the targets of intrusive surveillance were only “criminals” and scary brown people with weird clothes, those who pointed out the growing danger were derided for “tying the hands of police”.

Anthony FremontBut now that the precedents are well-established, the machine that hate built is grinding up white people, middle-class people, women and sacred cows alike.  The cops are smashing down their doors, murdering their pets, beating and caging their sons and sexually assaulting their daughters.  Imperial prosecutors with absolute immunity to the consequences of their actions are hounding ordinary people into bankruptcy or death for heinous “crimes” such as building houses or downloading computer files.  Women are increasingly prosecuted and imprisoned using the legal tools created by “feminists”, and nobody is safe from the burgeoning surveillance state.  And all because instead of strangling these abominations in their cribs, unprincipled cowards cried, “They’re just babies!” and proceeded to feed and nurture them until they grew completely out of control.

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