The Dumb Police State

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


security_thumb-300x255Investigative work is built on selective mistrust. The difference between a state in which there are police and a police state is the scope of that mistrust. A state in which there are police will pursue criminals by using investigative techniques to profile suspects while a police state criminalizes everyone by treating the entire population of the country like suspects.

Some police states are smart, calculated power grabs. Others are dumb defaults.  A smart police state suspects everyone because it’s a tyranny. A dumb police state is run by people who can’t or won’t narrow down the suspect list so that they are forced to suspect everyone.

The United States has been on the road to becoming a dumb police state for a while now. It’s not dumb because its law enforcement officers and military commanders are stupid. They are actually some of the best in the world. It’s a dumb police state because fear of bigotry makes selective mistrust impossible.

The problem hit home for most people when the TSA began strip searching small children and amputees who were a long way from the typical profile of a Saudi male in his twenties or thirties likely to hijack a plane and fly it into a skyscraper.

This didn’t happen because the TSA was run by idiots. That might still be the case, but the TSA was only doing exactly what all American law enforcement had been doing ever since the seventies. It was choosing universal mistrust over selective mistrust. It suspected everyone to avoid singling anyone out. Unfortunately the entire job of airline security depends on intelligently singling out likely suspects, rather than randomly terrorizing passengers in the name of protecting them from terrorists.

Pandering to Islam is just the latest phase in the dumbing down of law enforcement that began when civil liberties activists made it nearly impossible for police to do their jobs. After decades of lawsuits and judicial activism, law enforcement and a new generation of urban mayors reclaimed troubled areas with ruthless policing that terrorized people across the board.

The tactics worked and liberals learned to love the police state because it kept them safe and because it did not discriminate. As long as anyone was liable to be randomly shot, without regard for their personal details, then the police state was fine with them. Once they had been mugged enough times, they realized that they didn’t oppose aggressive policing. What they opposed was selectively aggressive policing. Random terror against random terror was fine with them.

This strange compromise between liberals and law enforcement led to a perverse police state in which any form of discrimination based on likelihood of criminality was worse than the actual crime or than treating everyone like a criminal.

Terrorism upgraded these same tactics on a larger scale. The TSA gave the entire country a taste of the tactics that reclaimed inner cities. Behind the scenes, national versions of urban law enforcement tactics were being deployed. Meanwhile the real threat was getting a taste of traditional community policing with FBI agents and Federal prosecutors waiting in line at every mosque entrance to talk about how the government can help Muslims prevent terrorism by treating it like a social problem.

Terrorism investigations were not crippled by a unique set of protests, but by the same civil liberties tactics that hamstrung law enforcement back in the day. The only difference is that unlike fighting crime, there was hardly even a transition from a time when law enforcement had broad discretion for dealing with terrorists. The War on Terror was doomed to be a grimy combination of international peacekeeping and community policing in Benghazi and Kabul from the very beginning.

Whether it’s crime or terrorism, liberal politicians have learned that they can’t simply offer nothing. The Dukakis strategy no longer gets you elected. And so instead they offer tepid support for policies that spread the pain and deprive everyone of their civil rights as long as no one is singled out. Random stops and searches are legitimate, so long as they aren’t limited to certain dangerous neighborhoods. The phone calls of every American are fair game, but surveillance of mosques isn’t.

Police state tactics work in the same way that nuclear bombs work. Rather than taking aim at a target, they blow everyone away at the same time. That’s messy and dumb. Smart police states spread terror universally to terrorize their opposition. Dumb police states only go broad spectrum because they can’t or won’t target. Terrorizing everyone is all that they can do.

A dumb police state is occasionally effective, but it’s as much by random chance as anything else. Smash a sledgehammer around the room often enough and you may occasionally hit a fly. Round up all the suspects to the gruesome murder of Colonel Windham III in the drawing room of his mansion and gun them all down and you may end up taking down the killer too.

America and Europe are stuck with dumb police states in the War on Terror because anything else would undermine the illusion on which multiculturalism depends. It is why FBI training materials had to be purged of references to Islamic terrorism and why after the Woolwich attack, the London police prioritized arresting Brits who said offensive things on Twitter. Any idea that undermines multiculturalism is more dangerous than the actual terror that takes lives.

Bad policies require calculated ignorance. They require that governments and law enforcement deliberately not know certain dangerous things, like the profile of a likely terrorist. For decades, Americans have accepted that bargain, trading personal freedoms for collective security under a sensitive police state that might take away freedoms, but would never offend anyone.

The dumb police state can illogically mistrust everyone, but it can’t logically mistrust anyone, unless he’s a white male who is representative of the majority population. And so it’s stuck in a state of universal paranoia. It mistrusts everyone, rather than mistrust anyone. It randomly harasses people for no reason to avoid harassing those people who deserve it with good reason.

In the age of terror, the compromises of the dumb police state are wearing down everyone and endangering entire countries. And there are signs that people are preparing to opt out of the collective bargain that made the dumb police state possible.

Supporters of the dumb police state insist that there are only two choices; terror or the dumb police state. But there is a third choice. The third choice is the selective mistrust of likely terrorists, rather than the total mistrust of all Americans.

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  • http://fawstin.blogspot.com/ Bosch Fawstin

    Excellent, Daniel, Excellent, thanks for putting it all in such well written words.

  • chris ashton

    “And there are signs that people are preparing to opt out of the collective bargain that made the dumb police state possible.” and what might these signs be, Daniel? I like to know.

  • Lionel Mandrake

    Greenfield as usual crafts top notch journalism. But please let’s all not forget that there are droves of actually dumb police and other law enforcement operatives available for all to see, and one does not need look very far.

    Affirmative Action and forced hiring of all non-whites regardless of general relative ability has swamped the TNA, I mean TSA, with the absolute bottom of the barrel of thuggish, low IQ, and common sense deprived goons and goonettes, available for the world to see. These basically McDonalds level civil servants cannot be fired easily. They have major power over us and yet most functioning illiterates with thuggish mannerisms.

    These type of people are the perfect instrument of the US Police State. They are sought just for their low IQ. In fact the dumber they are, the more zealous a fellow traveller they become.

    Don’t give me the “Most law enforcement officers are professional”, crap. Here on NYC, you wouldn’t believe how all too many cops look and act. On fsct, NYPD should issue coffe cup holders as standard equipment on their itility belts brcause when theyre not busy texting or chasing down a biker for going through a red light, theyre busy holding a coffee cup, and reading their email.

    It’s crazy, it’s scary, and we are really in a lot of trouble folks.

    • EarlyBird

      What do you mean by “…swamped by the TNA, I mean TSA…”?

      • Lionel Mandrake

        “TNA” is a derogatory term for breasts (T.) and buttocks (A.).

        Everyone knows the TSA will grope old white ladies while Ahmed is waved by with a rocket launcher under his robe.

    • knowshistory

      when you consider the mission of the police, which is catching honest citizens in any error or mistake that can lead to a quick conviction in kangaroo court and an easy fine, you can appreciate their attraction to coffee and donuts. they generally dont create much mischief in their donut shop, and dont often inconvenience real criminals while they are out there raking in hapless citizens who can be safely fleeced. yea, coffee and donuts.

  • wildjew

    Were Obama’s IRS’ targeting conservatives and conservative groups, Tea Party activists, Romney supporters, etc., dumb police state tactics or smart police state tactics? Calling Islamic terrorists “violent extremists” is really dumb. So is refusing to profile those who want to kill us dumb. I don’t think Obama is dumb. Is it possible Obama could turn TSA snooping tactics from dumb police state tactics to smart police state tactics (if he hasn’t already) like we’ve seen with the IRS?

  • emptorpreempted

    excellent

  • http://tinatrent.com/ Tina Trent

    Root causes criminology demonized society for failing individual criminals while forgiving violent predators because they had bad childhoods. The hate crimes industry institutionalized group guilt and group innocence and deployed pernicious racial politics throughout the justice system. The bullying movement spreads the mass culpability narrative down to children. The prisoner re-entry and illegal immigrant amnesty grabs monetize doing harm to others in ways that would make a rational choice economist blush. The academic anti-rape feminists do nothing to hold real rapists responsible for crimes because they’re too busy persecuting all men for the existence of rape. Each of these movements criminalize innocent people in order to minimize the responsibility of guilty ones. When the law is thoroughly politicized, it only rewards lawlessness.

  • Sharps Rifle

    Daniel, you’ve done an excellent job in illustrating why sensitive New Age douchebags are unfit to run anything more substantial than a lemonade stand. Multiculturalism is a sham, and anyone with a lick of sense knows it. Excellent illustration of the sheer stupidity that has dominated government for far too long!

    • Guy Fromage

      I wouldn’t even trust the lemonade. o_O

  • tagalog

    I find it impossible to distinguish in effect between a tyrannical police state where the police suspect everyone because they’re functionaries of the tyrant, and a dumb police state where the police suspect everyone because they’re prohibited from profiling. The effect is precisely the same, isn’t it? “Your papers, please,” with the “please” part disappearing as the police gain confidence.

    So dumb or smart, police states MUST go.

  • Texas Patriot

    Changing the focus of domestic surveillance from “Islamic jihadists”, i.e. those most likely to commit terrorist attacks against the American people to “all extremists”, i.e. anyone who is extremely unhappy with the status quo, is a convenient way for an incumbent president/party to monitor and/or suppress political opposition. It works in Iran. Why not America?

  • CowboyLogic

    They certainly do not exude much confidence.

  • herb benty

    Multiculuralism HAS to work, being a primer for ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, when the massacre of Jews and Christians( real Zionist ones) can go ahead. Lord God in Heaven, we know you are allowing this to happen, we Trust you and wait for YOU.

    • William James Ward

      Islamists are murdering Christians and Jews in thier hellhole
      nations and are being imported here, well how stupid or how
      sinister, the government is our worst case of stupid………William

      • herb benty

        William, you are right, Islamists are killing Christians and Jews right now. Here in Canada we are presently enjoying a right-wing conservative government that wants to deport terrorists and radicals from other countries, however, the NDP ( similar to Obamas Dems), are trying to stop the effort. Pray for Canada also please, the Left- Muslim alliance is busy at weakening both of our nations.

        • William James Ward

          Unfortunately for Europe we will see the future in
          thier daily news reports and it will be very ugly and
          a heads up as to the necessity to deport every
          Muslim and outlaw Islam in America and hopefully
          Canada…………………..William

  • Gloria Stewart

    Daniel Greenfield has, as usual, written an excellent piece. Actually when one is searching for terrorist activity there is only one group that we should focus on: Muslims. Call it profiling if you wish. It is risk assessment. Conservatives are wrong to justify profiling young Saudi males. Of course that should be done, but an elderly woman in a wheel chair may be concealing an explosive device, If she is Muslim. A Muslim child might be concealing an explosive device put on him by his parents.

    I believe that a few years ago the police in England foiled a plot to blow up airplanes just before they landed, to maximize death and destruction. It involved parents who would be travelling with a baby, and the explosives would be in the baby’s bottle, masquerading as formula.

    We need to put aside political correctness and concentrate on reality.

  • EarlyBird

    Wow. I actually agree with Daniel Greenfiled for once. Good article.

    • William James Ward

      Really, really!!!……….let me take this moment in…….really.
      William

      • EarlyBird

        Shocking, aint it?

        • William James Ward

          Yes and my hamster Napoleon is equally shocked.
          William

  • FrontPgSubscr

    Daniel Greenfield is a journalist (for FRONTPAGEMAG) I am beginning to
    take seriously. He absolutely NAILS IT on- the ‘terror front’ so to speak.
    Let’s hear Mr. Mandrake’s piece (below) on this matter. He says a lot!

    What I might add is that there HAS TO BE a real function of collusion
    between very high elements of Islam and the current (quantitative)
    leadership of this nation!!! This can easily go BEYOND Islam (which
    may simply be “a tool”). WHERE ARE ALL THE “LIBERALS” who LOVE
    to bellyache about “separating church and state”???? For all except
    very dim minds, something is very wrong!!!

  • kafirman

    Greenfield is a social commentary genius.

  • cathy

    Could it be that the DSA is not targeting everybody in the name of terrorism? Could it be that the DSA is targeting political opponents.

    Truth or Fiction?

    DHS insider: It’s about to get very ugly
    By Doug Hagmann
    Monday, June 10, 2013
    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/55749

  • Kukye

    Dumb police state requires dumb people state. Who made everyone dumb like liberals?

  • greshel

    Dumb police state; fighting terrorism. Smart police state; targeting conservatives, returning vets and libertarians- the real enemy of the state.

  • knowshistory

    when tsa finally tried to do something sensible, they caved to the pressure applied by those low iq goons and goonettes that infest airports. tsa actually planned to stop the confiscation of small blades, but quickly caved to the moron element. anyone with a brain knows that noone will ever take over an airliner with a small blade, now that the consequences are well known. 9-11 could not have happened without the willing cooperation of airplane crews, and that happened only because they did not know that submission meant fiery death. so when tsa finally, at long last, proposed easing the restrictions on nail files and pen knives, the moron level goons and goonettes exerted their influence to continue the terrorization of airline passengers by goons and goonettes.

  • William James Ward

    The policeman pulled O’Brien over for a license check and saw a
    .45 cal. automatic on the seat and the Officer asked if he had a
    license for it, O’Brien produced the papers, the Officer asked what
    was laying on the floorboard, 12gague shotgun replied O’Brien,
    and in the back seat? a AR -15 with ten 20 round clips replies
    O’Brien, anything in the trunk, yes a BAR and 1,000 rounds.
    What are you affraid of asked the Officer, replied O’Brien, not a
    damn thing. Multiculturalism may terrorize the many but for the
    few who see it for what it is, no problem………………William