Sunday, January 27, 2008

America, the Cruel ... America, the Stupid

One of the distinguishing marks of a police state is its cruelty—its cruelty to other nations, as well as to its own citizens.

We see this cruelty more and more every day in America. We see it every time a cop Tasers someone in a wheelchair, or handcuffs a child for misbehaving in kindergarten, or kicks in the wrong door and shoots an old lady to death, or pepper-sprays a crowd of men, women, and children who have assembled peaceably to exercise their first amendment rights. And we see it abroad, too, every time an American soldier or Blackwater mercenary rapes or murders an innocent Iraqi civilian and every time someone is tortured in one of America's many concentration camps around the world.

We see this a lot. The evidence is all around us. America has become a cruel, cruel nation—cruel and stupid.

That is the other distinguishing mark of a police state: stupidity.

A police state, you see, must create stupid laws to justify its cruelties and a stupid bureaucracy staffed with stupid people to run such a cruel and stupid system. And oh, how very stupid America has become. Examples abound. They cannot all be listed here. If I tried, it would take all night, and all day tomorrow, and all next week. Therefore, I must confine myself to two examples from the today's news …

Headline: Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

Apparently this is no joke. American citizens really are being detained as illegal immigrants and deported. Wrap your mind around that one, if you can. We do not know how many people this is happening to, because our government does not track these cases, but it is indeed happening.

Consider the case of Thomas Warziniack, a 40-year-old man born in Minnesota and raised in Georgia, whose troubles began when he was arrested on a minor drug charge in Colorado. After his arrest, he went into heroin withdrawal and began babbling a wild tale about being a Russian colonel and escaping from a Russian submarine. The police stupidly believed him, of course, even though he spoke no Russian and had a Southern accent. Thus, he was identified as Russian. A Colorado court did clear up the matter eventually, but somehow the initial misidentification followed him to prison, where he was turned over to immigration authorities. They, in turn, placed him in a detention facility, stupidly ignoring his protests that he was a US citizen. Had they not ignored him, had they obtained his birth certificate to verify his citizenship—a process that would have taken all of five minutes—the entire matter would have been cleared up. Fortunately, by some quirk of fate, someone who was not stupid heard about the situation and brought it to the attention of a US senator, who intervened and had the man released before he could be sent to Russia.

Headline: Two British girls sent to an orphanage and strip searched after mothers becomes ill during a holiday in US

A great many Europeans are visiting the US these days to take advantage of the current exchange rate and have what they think will be a good time. That is what Yvonne Bray, of the UK, thought would happen when she got the idea to take her teenage daughters on a dream trip to New York City. Oh, how very wrong she was.

Shortly after she and her daughters arrived, Ms. Bray became ill with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. There was no one to look after the girls, therefore New York’s Administration for Children Services (ACS) \stepped in to take care of them by placing them an orphanage where they were strip-searched, examined for signs of rape, made to shower in front of strangers, made to wear some kind of uniform, denied any contact with their mother or any news of her condition—in short, to quote their mother,”subjected to the kind of treatment you wouldn't even expect criminals to go through.”

She is wrong, of course. She came here thinking this is the old America, but it is not. This is the new America, Police State America, where the simplest thing, the most innocent thing, can land you in a Kafkaesque nightmare, where you will be subjected to every degrading and horrible thing a police state bureaucracy in all its stupidity and cruelty can devise.

America, the Cruel. America, the Stupid. God help us all …