When Fascism Comes to the United States, It Will Be Wrapped in Riot Gear and Wielding a Billy Club

Sinclair Lewis was not entirely correct in his prediction from 1935. The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The disembodied voice-recording of the militarized police state:
To those who remain, by order of the chief of police, I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly. I order all those assembled to immediately disperse, you must leave the immediate vicinity. If you do not disperse you may be arrested and/or subject to other police action.
The latter quotation is transcribed from a video shot by protesters outside last week's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh immediately before squads of riot police carrying plastic shields and wielding batons moved in to clear the streets and sidewalks of yet another American city with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets:

At Counter Currents, Shamus Cooks sets the scene to place it in a broader context:
When word first arrived that the G-20 would be meeting in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, activists began organizing protest demonstrations. Events like this are what freedom of speech is made for. What better occasion to protest than a meeting of the world’s 20 top leaders — most of them deservedly hated — where they will be imposing policy on billions of people worldwide? The majority of protesters consisted of labor and community groups; they encountered an army of police, literally.

The New York Times paints an intimidating picture: “…the police were out in force, patrolling on bicycles, foot and horseback, by river and by air … protesters trying to march toward the convention center…encountered roaming squads of police officers carrying plastic shields and batons. The police fired a sound cannon (a new weapon) that emitted shrill beeps … then threw tear gas canisters that released clouds of white smoke and stun grenades that exploded with sharp flashes of light . . . Riot fences lined the sidewalks. Police helicopters, gunboats and Humvees darted to and fro. City officials announced they had up to 1,000 jail cells ready after county officials freed up additional space last week by releasing 300 people who had been arrested on minor probation violations.” (September 25, 2009).

What threat required such a military-like response? None was given. The New York Times article and many like it imply that the mere existence of marching protesters warrants a colossal reaction . . . The G-20 police presence is not a terrible surprise to anyone who has attended a legitimate, community-organized protest over the years. Non-provoked usage of brutal weaponry is becoming commonplace; the police-enforced use of “free speech zones” at protests — small areas surrounded by fences in some cases — is nothing new. But the staggering police presence at the G-20 confirms that the stakes have been raised.

Two turning points that deserve special attention — since the mainstream media continues to ignore them — are last year's Democratic and Republican National Conventions. In both cases incredible abuses of police powers were witnessed, with the Republican Convention (RNC) showcasing the most extreme cases of state repression. [Emphasis added.]
The national security police state – the monopolization of violence under the conditions of the duopoly system of government – is the true face of the Democratic-Republican Party, and must be confronted at every possible opportunity. That the militarization of the police and the use of excessive force against peaceful assemblies of citizens has become a matter of course is but one more symptom of the incessant erosion of liberty in the United States.

Though many on the right decry international organizations such as the United Nations (–Mike Huckabee, for instance, speaking at the "How to Take Back America" conference over the weekend, suggested we "get a jackhammer" to "chip off that part of New York City" and "let it float into the East River," for which he reportedly received a standing ovation–), rarely do they raise their voices against the G-8, the G-20, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. When push comes to shove, literally, they are nowhere to be seen.

Here we find yet another potential point of overlap between left- and right-wing protest movements. If tea party activists are disturbed about the loss of US sovereignty, the erosion of the Constitution, the safe-guarding of individual liberty, and the creeping fascist tendencies of the duopolized state, police actions like those against protesters outside the G-20, not to mention the summit and organization itself, should be a cause of great concern.


Samuel Wilson said...

Those are stark images. The strange thing remains that nobody besides cops really considers these perrennial protesters to be a threat to much besides storefront windows. You are quite right that both major parties are mute on this issue, but it isn't really an issue because too few Americans are even aware of it. But there are plenty of people in America today who feel persecuted by the state yet would have no idea what persecution looked like unless they looked at this video.

d.eris said...

Indeed. I wonder though, do many people really not know? How many simply side with the police, sit back and enjoy watching a protester get shown a thing or two? That is the real danger in creeping fascism. I wonder to what extent the tea party movement, if it becomes more active, will eventually change people's opinions in this regard, as they become the object of police repression.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

This is the big question mark for me in terms of the potential of a left-right overlap. The Tea Party protesters decry statism and encroachment on civil liberties but there wasn't a big outcry among Tea Partiers about police abuses of protesters at the G-20 summit. Also, as you observed, Tea Party activists are highly vocal about economic issues but pretty much absent when it comes to protesting against the WTO, World Bank, NAFTA, CAFTA, "Free Trade" Agreements, etc.

Will these conservatives speak up on principle against police abuses and bad economic policies if (a) it is the Leftists who are the ones getting their heads beaten in by police and (b) going against economic policy means going against the grain of mainstream conservative opinion and actually supporting arguments and policies that originate from the Left? When these start happening is when the potential for a Left-Right anti-Establishment alliance becomes more sharply focused.

d.eris said...

Yes, for all the talk about individual liberty, many on the right are pretty quiet when it comes to police violence as well as other sorts of rights violations. Maybe, as Sam says, a lot of people are simply unaware.

It should be noted though, if I remember correctly, that there was a fair amount of opposition to NAFTA on the right. Wasn't it one of Perot's major talking points? People like Lou Dobbs (or no?) also agitate against these sorts of international organizations, though he seems more concerned with the non-existent "North American Union" than actually existing international organizations.