Yesterday I stumbled on a Facebook thread in which the main commenters were using this week’s police work in Boston as indicators of Fascism in the United States. Included was a picture of an armored Humvee, in camouflage paint, with an armored officer holding an automatic weapon standing in the open top hatch.
The military tenor of the picture was one of the motivators for the cries of Fascism.
The other major motivator was the lockdown of Boston and four surrounding towns. The civil authorities ordered that to keep people off the street and to give the police more freedom to find the 19-year-old suspect.
These two things were enough to inspire cries of Fascism, but the cries were couched in attacks on the police, as if the police were responsible for the Fascism the commenters decried.
To be blunt, these people had their heads up their asses and were convenient tools of the real Fascisti, if you will.
To add to the picture, a commentator on WBUR in Boston this morning brought up similar complaints about the shutdown and the military vehicles, and plaintively remembered the good old days when the cops on a similar mission many years ago were armed with nothing but shotguns and plastic shields.
Let’s look at the situation again.
Two people walked into the crowds of Boston Marathon spectators and deliberately set off two bombs that killed three people and injured some 150 others, some severely.
Various police and intelligence agencies set out to find the bombers. Within two days they had photographs, which they circulated to the public.
Thursday night, late, the police discovered the suspects either robbing a 7-11 store or an ATM – I’m not clear on that yet. The suspects killed an MIT police officer as he sat in his police car. They gravely wounded an MBTA Transit Police Officer. They hijacked an SUV and ran, with police pursuing them.
The suspects threw explosives from their car at the pursuing police. Massive amounts of gunfire were exchanged. Ultimately the older brother was killed – was apparently run over by his brother who escaped. Doctors who examined the dead brother said his wounds indicated he had been exposed to an explosive blast, which indicated he might have been wearing an explosive vest.
An intensive manhunt for the younger brother ensued in Watertown, without success, for the rest of the night. Then the civil authorities ordered the lockdown for Watertown, Boston, and other towns. They wanted people off the street, out of harms way, and out of the police’s way.
The lockdown was apparently a Fascist sin according to the screaming philosophers of the left.
Apparently forgotten in their political rage was the fact that this kid walked calmly into a crowd of spectators at the Marathon and blew a bomb.
Friday morning and all day Friday he was on the loose. He was hunted and desperate and armed, and the only safe assumption that could be made was that he would kill again, and if necessary he would kill himself, taking as many people with him as he could. If there had not been a lockdown he could well have walked up to a crowd in the subway or at a bus stop or in a restaurant and blown them up along with himself. The only way to prevent that was to get people off the street until the police had killed or captured the killer.
That’s not Fascism. That’s good police work.
As for the armored Humvees and the very serious weapons the cops carried, maybe the critics would do well to remember we live in a society where a five-year-old kid could walk into a gun show and walk out with an assault rifle and nobody would blink an eye among the gun crowd. The NRA and their ilk, willingly doing the dirty work of the gun manufacturers, have made it possible for almost anyone, anytime, anywhere, to get serious and deadly weaponry. And yet here we have people saying the police should face that threat with shotguns and plastic shields.
But here’s the rest of the story. While these screeching protesters in that Facebook thread were criticizing the police and calling them Fascists, the real Fascists were sitting in their expensive corporate offices and Congressional offices of the Republican Party chuckling at the fools attacking the police.
The police are tools of society. They do what society demands of them to keep peace and order. They are not the creators of Fascism or Communism or Democracy. They are not the real enemy, and if you decide that the grounds on which you will fight incipient anti-democratic forces are the grounds the police stand on, you will have simply played into the hands of the people out to destroy democracy in America.
In fact it would be well to consider that those who call the police Fascists might well be in the employ of the real wreckers of democracy, because what those at the top of the anti-democratic movement most want to see is the people at the bottom fighting among themselves. They are happy to see the police attacked, and to see the police fighting back, because when that happens no one is looking at the corporate officers of Monsanto and Exxon and General Electric and the rest of them, and no one is looking at the Republicans smirking in their offices and cutting the legs out from under democracy in the House and the Senate.
When someone cries Fascism and points at the police or at others who live in the same strata of society as most of us, we would do well to turn to that person and question his motives and his background and his political leanings. We would do well to ask why he is not pointing at the wealthy destroyers of democracy like the Koch brothers and their ilk; at the vile actions of the Republicans in Congress; at the priests and ministers who would force their theology into our laws; at the corporate princes who cry ‘We want free markets’ for the sole reason that they will profit more from the suffering they can inflict on the people.
The police are an easy target, and the wannabe tyrants will do all they can to make them even easier targets by calling for police powers to be increased. Don’t look at the police: look at the people who want to make the police more powerful, more intrusive, more invasive.
The police have always been a paramilitary organization. They have to be in order to function effectively. With the increase in American military activities, more veterans will find a career and a home in local police operations, and the police will become even more militarized. And they will face greater threats to society. But they will not create a Fascist state. They will be its tools if such a state is established.
To criticize the cops, federal and local, who put their lives on the line to save your dumb ass from the Tsarnaev brothers, is the height of stupidity, and makes you one of the tools that will help create a Fascist state.