In a recent article for Natural News, “Adopting Tactics of Tyrants” (November 22, 2011) Mike Adams gave name to a cultural phenomenon that I have been observing with increasing discomfort. In view of stories such as the “food Nazis” raiding farm picnics and ordering everyone to destroy their food, nursing home staffers in Atlanta waterboarding an 89 year old dementia patient using techniques borrowed from Guantanamo Bay, as well as routine sexual and other harassment of air travelers by TSA goons. The arrest of young children is becoming commonplace, as is the use of lethal Tasers by militarized police against the deaf, wheelchair bound, elderly, pregnant women, the mentally ill and anyone else who does not immediately “comply”. News media for this past month of November was filled with images of law enforcement thugs casually pepper spraying innocent non-violent protesters, directly in the face, as though these people were some sort of non-human insects. No surprise therefore that a competitive shopper thought it justified to pepper spray 20 others in order to “get an upper hand” in the race for a Black Friday bargain. Just as children mimic the actions of their parents, people are following examples set by “the authorities”.
Trickle-down tyranny is not uncommon in totalitarian societies. People who are bullied, bully others, because they can, it’s within their job description or they were “only following orders”. Those who enjoy inflicting pain, suffering, and power over others, under cover of the law and freedom from accountability, will always thrive in an authoritarian atmosphere. In Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima, Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton identified another aspect of this dynamic. In his study of post-war Japanese reaction to the atomic bomb, he found that many did not blame the USA for dropping it on their cities. Instead they chose to believe that America must be a very great power to have such a weapon. These Japanese managed their fear by choosing to identify with the aggressor and the bomb and then sought nuclear power for themselves. Coping with fear by identifying with the aggressor could also explain some of what is going on in our country now.
And then there is the old adage that “you become what you resist”. In this so called “war on terror”, Americans have taken to terrorizing each other in the name of patriotism. Omnipresent messages from Big Sis and Homeland Security encourage us to adapt an attitude of suspicion and spy on our fellow citizens as potential “domestic terrorists”… “If you see something, say something”. Alert citizens who value their remaining freedoms would do well to also say what they see while monitoring the actions of our “authorities”, and share this information through any available mainstream or alternative media outlets, internet posting, cell phone camera and twitter. In a truly democratic society the message of “see something, say something” can and should work both ways.