Saturday, September 20, 2014

Now The Government is Militarizing American Schools


Numerous stories have revealed that the militarization of the American police has expanded into the nation’s schools as well. The U.S. government’s 1033 program to offload surplus military gear on local civilian police forces is glaring evidence of just how far off the rails that the overreaction to the 9/11 attacks have gone. The mass expansion of the Big Brother style national surveillance state, the ongoing government war on civil liberties, the irrelevance of the Posse Comitatus Act and the arming of police as if they were on the streets of an occupied country is now well into its second decade.

The America of the past, one in which many of us took our freedoms for granted is gone forever. It has been replaced by the more a German style of state known as the "Heimat" - or as it is translated into English - “Homeland” . Now we have military weaponry entering into our schools which in any decent country should be a signal that it has all gone too far. Too bad that we no longer live in one.  It is a national nightmare from which there is no awakening.

John Whitehead of the civil rights organization The Rutherford Institute hits the bullseye in his latest article “An Unbearable and Choking Hell: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11” and I recommend that everyone read it. This is not a pinko, left-wing organization either so conservatives better get a fucking clue and quick. The Rutherford Institute regularly defends the defenseless against the abusers of power. They were a critical supporter of Paula Jones during her legal proceedings against the pervert president and pathological sex freak Slick Willie Clinton.  I excerpt the following from Whitehead's piece:

The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

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, roving VIPR raids and the like—all sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—a recitation of the Bill of Rights would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

The spreading of the cancer of the militarized police state to those institutions where our children are educated (very poorly so) and a story from The Guardian builds on what Mr. Whitehead refers to.  The story, “US school districts given free machine guns and grenade launchers” states:

School police departments across the US have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine-resistant armoured vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles.
At least 26 school districts have participated in the Pentagon’s surplus program, which is not new but has come under scrutiny after police responded to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, with teargas, armour-clad military trucks and riot gear.

Amid that increased criticism, several school districts have said they will give some of the equipment back but others plan to keep it. Nearly two dozen education and civil liberties groups have sent a letter to the Pentagon and the justice and education departments urging a stop to transfers of military weapons to school police.

One of those school districts - Pinellas County, Florida -  has purchased a number of M16 combat rifles from the Pentagon program at a discounted price per a story from the local newspaper's website . The Tampa Bay Times reports that “Pinellas schools buy assault rifles from military surplus program” and cites the contrasting viewpoints of local officials:

School police Chief Rick Stelljes said his department has wanted to purchase M-16 rifles, which he calls "long guns," for at least two years but was prohibited by cost. He said the government's program allowed him to buy each rifle for $50, significantly less than the $900 to $1,000 he would have otherwise paid.

The Pinellas School District's in-house police department provides officers at 12 schools; many of the local police agencies that contract with the remaining school campuses already assign their officers M-16s, Stelljes said.

School police officers already carry .40-caliber semiautomatic pistols with them. But Stelljes said the M-16s are better suited for emergency situations — namely, taking down a school shooter.

Never mind that serious “school shooter” incidents are just another excuse, exactly like the bogeyman that the federal government conjured up after 9/11 to justify their power grab. It is only natural that once the locals get the guns and armored vehicles that they don’t want to give them back.

The Tampa Bay Times story also features a voice of reason and rational thinking from the St. Petersburg based school district’s counterparts across the bay in Tampa:

Hillsborough's school police chief, John Newman, said the M-16s didn't appeal to him.

"Unless you are flat-out responding to an active shooter, that's the only use. In schools, just to have it? It's not something I would subscribe to. First of all, it's a horrible optic. And the chances of needing it are very, very small. That's just me," Newman said.

He was also concerned about the storage of the rifles: "And then you are going to leave it on campus? Where someone could break in? That's over the top. And you're talking to a six-year SWAT team guy."

No Pinellas County School Board members contacted by the Tampa Bay Times responded to phone messages seeking comment.

If more local officials had the common sense of Mr. Newman we would not be on the edge of the abyss at the bottom of which rests the full-blown American fascist state. We are not there yet, but it is currently working out the kinks and any incident like another "terrorist" attack would lock it down. This is grim news given the rise of the Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL or whatever it calls itself on any given day.

An important concept that never seems to get much attention is that children who were born on or around September 11, 2001 have never really lived in the free society that the rest of us have. There is nothing that is a better form of conditioning to accept full blown fascism than in getting schoolchildren used to being around military style weapons and paramilitary forces from their earliest cognitive stages. The government schooling aside, which discourages creative thinking is bad enough but training children to accept fascism as the "new normal" is insidious.

As late author Sinclair Lewis so aptly put it: “It can happen here”.