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Will the Public Support Brutality in the Name of Safety?

July 30, 2017

Common Dreams posted an article by their staff writer Jake Johnson that provided a synopsis of President Trump’s chilling speech before a group of Long Island police officers. In his speech, which was intended to focus on the gang MS-13, a transnational gang whose roots are on the west coast, the President called the gang members “animals” and “…encouraged the police to be “rough” with those they detain”. The police response to this line was reported as “wild applause”.

What will the national response be? It is unlikely to be wild applause… but it is also unlikely to be revulsion. My fear is that the response will be acceptance. Law abiding citizens are likely to accept “rough treatment” to those who might be gang members in exchange for their safety the same way that we’ve accepted body scans at airports in exchange for safe travel, supported the idea of fences to “protect us” from dangerous illegal immigrants, supported the billions of dollars we are spending in armaments to “protect us” from the global war on terror, and supported laws that permit the unrestricted acquisition of weaponry to “protect” our homes. I will not be surprised to read that our Google searches, emails, and social media postings should be available to read (if they aren’t being read already) in the name of “safety”. We already seem willing to allow this in schools.

At some juncture we might push back against “safety measures”…. or we might accept ever tightening restrictions on our freedom. We’ve now “trained” a generation of students to accept body scans as they enter a public facility, to accept surveillance during the day, and to expect their every move on the internet to be examined by authorities— all in the name of “safety”. That generation never experienced an unobstructed walk to the gate of an airplane, the opportunity to enter their courts or legislative buildings without being scanned… or the chance to engage in pick-up games without close adult supervision. Will a generation raised with close supervision in the name of safety be willing to become more free?

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