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"Have a nice police state!"

by Claire Wolfe Saturday, Jul. 19, 2003 at 8:42 PM

This time they descend on you -- a covey of smiling security screeners bearing balloons and brightly wrapped packages, accompanied by National Guardsmen with flowers poking out of the barrels of their MP-5 machine guns -- singing the Barney the Dinosaur theme song. "I love you, you love me ..."

"Have a nice police state!"

© 2001 Claire Wolfe 04.10.02

Exclusive to Roadhouse Sierra


"Bleeeeep!" goes the alarm on the metal detector.

"Oh, damn!" You try to look innocent. But all the other travelers stare as if you're a slavering shoe-bombing, lone-nut, psycho-wacko-weirdo who's trying to smuggle unauthorized knitting needles onto the airplane. "What now?" you think, projecting harmless, gosh-I-didn't-really-mean-to-have-those-nail-clippers-in-my-pocket thoughts as hard as you can.

But guess what? This time, you're in luck. This time they're not instantly going to take you aside, peel your clothes off, and inspect your body cavities for foreign objects ("Really, officer, it's just Preparation H, not plastic explosive!")

This time they descend on you -- a covey of smiling security screeners bearing balloons and brightly wrapped packages, accompanied by National Guardsmen with flowers poking out of the barrels of their MP-5 machine guns -- singing the Barney the Dinosaur theme song. "I love you, you love me ..."

Out from their midst prances a younger version of Vanna White, her federal uniform tailored tight across the bow, cut high on the thigh, and tastefully trimmed with sequins. She wears a simper that could win half a dozen Miss America competitions as she chirps, "Congratulations, Citizen XYZ-7! You're our 100,000th customer this week!"

"Ohmigosh!" You dissolve in delight, babbling with glee, rollicking with relief. You've just won a free honeymoon weekend for two, courtesy of Marriott Hotels, a week-long trip to Walt Disney World, and a year's supply of gift certificates at McDonalds! The sceeners parade you around the terminal, flinging confetti, while the guardsmen fire a salute, and the terminal's sound system pipes in with a lively rendition of "Happy Days are Here Again!"

And then they take you aside and inspect your orifices for foreign objects. ("Honest, officer, it's just a tampon, not a stick of dynamite!")

Welcome to the kinder , gentler police state. The compassionate conservative's police state.

You probably think I'm kidding.

Well, maybe. Just a tad. But if John ("Mr. Shoot First and Blame the Corpses Later") McGaw, has his way, the coming American police state is going to be a really, really friendly police state. Cheerful, likable, efficient, public-relations oriented, and all-in-all just the darnedest, nicest police state whose jackboot has ever landed on your face.

McGaw is the former head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, now boss of the newly created Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Among other things, he and his DOT bosses have hired Kurt Kraus, a Marriott hotel executive and expert in "branding and corporate image," to train airport security screeners in "customer service."

Yes, "customer service."

Now, certainly, when you're being bent over, stripped, inspected, detected, rejected, scanned, and tracked by federal agencies, without benefit of warrant or even probable cause, you're being "serviced" in the old-fashioned agricultural sense.

But "customer"? Don't you sort of have to have a choice before you can be someone's customer? ("No thanks, Ishmael, I think I'd prefer not to have you stick that wand in my crotch today." "Gosh, Fatima, it's really nice of you to offer to run me through the BodySearch x-ray machine, but I think I'll pass and just go straight to the airplane.")

Yet somehow ... somehow ... Mr. Marriott Kraus seems to think that, as long as everyone's really polite, then warrantless searches and all the other joys of checkpoints and citizen tracking DON'T CONSTITUTE A POLICE STATE.

He kept saying as much in a report on NPR on April 4, as they taped him training Mr. McGaw's new minions. "Image is critical. Having a police state isn't going to work." "If they see that police state, anxiety is going to go up."

It's Mr. K's job to make sure that we don't see that police state – even when it's right in front of our eyes.

The TSA (which Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta refers to as his agency's "new brand") also hired consultants from Walt Disney World to design its checkpoints because (according to Kip Hawley, a senior advisor to Mineta) Disney's approach is "to control a crowd but have it be friendly and fast-moving and customer-oriented."

Disney designing police checkpoints? Isn't that like having Mickey Mouse stage rallies at Nuremberg?

But the TSA and its corporate "branding" minions aren't alone in their "image is everything, principle is nothing" approach.

The IRS, too, incessantly uses this language of "customer service," while incessantly "servicing" the taxpayers.

And in another report on NPR last week, a pair of "international relations" experts speculated upon how the U.S. could improve its image abroad. NOT by actually improving behavior, mind you. NOT by ceasing to meddle in the affairs of virtually every country on earth. NOT by ceasing to send billions of dollars to encourage the depredations of dictators.

No, the way to improve our reputation abroad is to ... send more ballet corps and symphony orchestras. Revive the U.S. Information Agency (that infamous propaganda and disinformation machine). And generally do things to make people in other countries feel a gosh-darned whole lot better about us while our government goes right on propping up tribal tyrants, screwing up local economies, and bombing stone-age nations further into the stone age.

These "international relations" consultants would get along just fine with Mr. Marriott Kraus. As long as everybody's smiling a great big, friendly Barney smile, they ardently believe, the U.S. can be neither an international bully nor a domestic police state.

What in the name of Goebbels do these people think a police state IS?

Do they imagine that if the American stormtroopers demand, "Your papers, pretty please with sugar on it," it's not a police state? Do they think that, as long as random checkpoints are conducted with efficiency and Mousketeer good cheer, they don't savage the Bill of Rights? Do they think that if national ID cards came with pretty holograms and your choice of personalized color schemes, and that if you could earn bonus points toward Exciting Premiums every time you use one, that there'd be no problem with being tracked and controlled from cradle to grave?

Do they think that if an ATF agent carved smiley faces instead of notches in the butt of his gun that the dead of Waco wouldn't have been victims of a police state raid? Do they think that if guards in the gulag had handed out gift certificates for a free bowl of borscht at Boris's Cafe, the Siberian exiles would have been free as little birdies? Do they think that if the Nazis had smiled more, the Jews wouldn't have minded so terribly much being gassed?

That seems to be the assumption. Ridiculous, isn't it?

Unfortunately, they're 100 percent, absolutely, perfectly correct.

Oh, they're not correct in thinking that a smile erases an outrage, efficiency excuses excess, or that a polite gesture neatly covers every unconstitutionality. Not in principle, anyway.

But they're correct about the tenor of the times. To a TV-glazed generation, appearance is indeed all that matters. Words mean whatever the government says they mean. If the government says it's "preserving freedom" for the "customers" of its "new brand" and promoting "a culture of quality" by turning Americans into passive little drones with no rights, well, it must be so.

And gosh, if mere politeness and efficiency can persuade us we're not losing freedom, then why not also throw in a few bonus Big Macs and a visit with Mickey Mouse as rewards for being loyal "customers" of the Exciting! New! Improved! Police State ™ brand USA?

Here's how it's going to work: If they pretend that a kinder, gentler SS isn't a police state, Americans will pretend to be more secure (which checkpoints didn't make us before 9-11 and never ultimately will). As long as they're courteous while they steal our freedom, we'll accept them -- and maybe even come to love them like nice, safe Barneys, Mickeys, and security blankets for grownups.

And that way, you can guarantee, they'll be with us for a long, long time.

So enjoy your trip and "Have a nice police state!"


Thanks to Charles for the brainstorming.

Want to know more about what constitutes a police state -- and why you should be very, very scared about what's happening in America? Read The State vs the People by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman, just .95 postpaid from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. If you already know the danger, buy a copy for a friend or relative.

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Go back to sleep... Diogenes Saturday, Jul. 19, 2003 at 8:43 PM
Yawn Rational Normal Person Saturday, Jul. 19, 2003 at 8:48 PM
Who do you think you are fooling? Scarecrow Sunday, Jul. 20, 2003 at 12:28 PM

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