Saturday, November 22, 2014

Better to Militarize, Than Ask Permission

The history of North Ireland, Ulsterization, would suggest that the goal of providing military grade weaponry and training to local police forces is to obscure and decentralize a federal policy which, if carried out from the center, would incite widespread public backlash.

By allowing municipalities to choose to opt in (albeit using a time delimited offer of funding--a classic sales pressure tactic), the militarization of  local US police forces maintains a parochial appearance. As a result, opposition occurs primarily at the local level--any potential national protest has been effectively atomized. Conversely, while acceptance occurs in multiple locations, the offer continues to come from only one place, with a consistency and persistence that suggests that the militarization of local police is, in fact, a centrally generated agenda with the force of policy.

In its current expressions, this didn't go through Congress. If it continues, it will be de facto domestic policy. As an "un-policy," its managers are not subject to conventional federal oversight (note the military and surveillance equipment given to the police department of Oakland, California, within the same time frame that it has also been subject to a federal monitor, assigned following repeated gross misconduct by the department). Furthermore, direct lines of communication--and relationships of benefactor to beneficiary--have been created with municipalities around the nation, creating a direct federal relationship independent of federal and state government.

If we were to observe this development in another country, we would be asking about the potential for a future military coup, understanding surveillance and the loss of privacy as two of its primary antecedent features.

In contrast, here at home, in a narcissification of news and information, we persist in our delusions of exceptionalism and worry that someone read our emails.