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Why Do So Many US Citizens Enable Our Police State?

I remarked to a coworker the other day about the tragic death of Sandra Bland. She agreed but hastened to add, “That is why I try to stay away from watching the news as much as possible.”

Before I had time to re-raise my jaw, she launched into an analysis of an impending work project, clearly closing the door to further discussion.

Why is this so often the rule not the exception among seemingly smart and empathetic US citizens who may momentarily tch-tch about some media-addressed dimension of the ethical freakshows that have become our economic, foreign policy, social, political and legal systems in America but who choose to pass over serious emotional and intellectual focus on them as if such issues really aren’t any of their -- our -- natural and constitutional business as citizens?

As for politics at the workplace, I should know better. I have never been forgiven I suspect spouting my bitter and early disenchantment with Obama back in 2009 when his campaign images still graced so many work cubes. I had endured more than a few smirky remarks after John Edwards had disgraced himself. Soon enough the new Prez was disgracing himself big time, but I seemed to be the only one seriously noticing.

Once Obama was ensconced in the WH, politics as a water cooler topic was discouraged at my work place. One supervisor advised me to shelve my particular (peculiar I’m thinking was what she really meant) and then -- preceded by a pause -- “passion” for politics as best I could.

I kept my mouth shut most of the time but soon after opted to wear a black arm band, vowing not to take it off until specifically Obama closed Gitmo as promised and prosecuted the Bush torture cabal. Just a matter of time -- weeks or months at most -- I assumed and wearing the band each day reminded me to hang onto my own moral compass. I also assumed wearing it would trigger some random but productive discussions as I navigated through my daily NYC world about the need for an end to and censure of US torture.

I never dreamed I would end up wearing the arm band for three long years, and technically I should still be wearing it, but I finally surrendered hope in Obama’s ever exhibiting serious conscience or it being a reliable catalyst for serious discussion.

Over those years only three people directly asked me what the arm band was for, one assuming there had been a recent death in my immediate family. I suspect my arm band at work did trigger discussion -- but only after I exited the room and they focused on how eccentric I can be.

Okay, no argument.

Before Obama’s election I rued the craven regime of Bush and Cheney but I had a greater sense of hope then, because I assumed there was a larger team of conscience-awakened citizens allied with me, all those Bush-bashing progressives, some even on tv, radio and in mainstream print media, who were not okay with expensive and violent illegitimate wars harming or killing hundreds of thousands of people globally, corporate profits over people wars cravenly justified by the tragedy of 9/11. When Bush was thank the Lord finally finished in office, another dark, spiritual age of America would be over I trusted. We would recover.

Obama supposedly won the 2008 election because of his strong anti-war stance. (Along with being endorsed by the almighty Oprah.) He also supposedly won thanks to contributions of average, every day Americans whose welfare he vowed to take care of.

Obama’s anti-war stance was gone in a New York minute after the election. Also gone was his prioritizing the needs of average citizens. Obama immediately began serving the one percent elite both domestically and internationally.

Nevertheless, Obama somehow kept the respect and good will of legions of so-called progressives, who rationalized as “pragmatics” against an ever-marginalized minority of us “purists” that Obama was doing the best that he could and we were letting the “perfect be the enemy of the good”. These were the early days of the evil “lesser evilism” meme.

We “purists” recognized Obama as a highly effective Trojan horse for oligarchy.

Imperial violence and violations of international law and also constitutional law escalated under Obama. Yet, our black, amiable and intelligent-sounding president could count on the same Bush/Cheney policies and even new illegitimate and amoral foreign policy, home security and surveillance programs being minimized and justified by Blue Team Dems.

Jumping ahead to the latest up to the minute ethical freakshow finally entering the national conversation in America, there is the assembly line of gratuitously murdered victims of the police. Three citizens killed per day is an estimate I heard recently. Trigger happy over-militarized cops using lethal force wantonly on citizens who happen to cross their paths. When and if they seriously and suddenly challenge them for some inconvenient behavior in the eyes of said police officer or even more dangerously an aggressive, racism-prone group-thinking bevy of them, anything can happen. Like, for example after example after example, instantaneous murder!!! Resulting in NO ACCOUNTABILITY. ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY.

Killer cops get to walk. WTF?

Why is it any surprise after years with no-accountability and blatant cronyism lying that proceeding with caution in the use of lethal force is not a biggie to the average cop on the street?

For right now, the targets of wanton and gratuitous police brutality and even murder are black and brown citizens, along with immigrants, the poor, dissidents, the emotionally ill, the young, the homeless, transgender people and others marginalized too often in our society. We have all been goose-stepping by the homeless for years, may I point out. Desensitizing circumstances for ALL of us!

The mainstream corporate media (along with our political class -- well, not OUR class, mind you but that belonging to the 1%) having shoved so much police brutality and victimizations under the proverbial rug for so many years is now ready to titillate with many, many of these ongoing tales of police violence. This seems a good thing, right? Though I trust the media about as far as I can throw it. The media can turn on a dime and demonize the very victims it has just been spotlighting, keep in mind. And a bobble-headed public majority will follow the damn media anywhere.

The law and order, tough on “terra” pols are now pausing to review the present media situation. Reality not currently analyzed by media is like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest without a media witness to these pols. Who cares? This is why Obama liked to have those secret meetings with strong media mouthpieces like the one on Putin with Jon Stewart, for example. Media has power.

The pols must consider cultivating new sound bites about blatant police cronyism and abuse of authority, paralleling similar abuses of authority and cronyism in their own economic, social and international policy orbits, mind you. They must now ramp up the hypocrisy of faux-caring with feigned outrage, at the same time preventing serious reform in a country in which soft-fascism continues to harden fast. Hmmm. How to talk the talk without walking the walk.

Fascism is such a friend to capitalism, but no one must acknowledge fascism by that name. Forget I just said that!

Again, as for the proverbial “bewildered herd” of the majority of the citizenry, what of them and the revelations of our clearly present POLICE STATE?

Since both conservatives and so-called progressives have serious trouble rallying empathy for the global hundreds of thousands the United States has directly or indirectly been responsible for slaughtering or devastating the lives of, HERE COMES ANOTHER MORAL LITMUS TEST.


CAN AND WILL the majority of the citizenry rally real concern for the current American citizens being gratuitously and illegitimately killed or maimed or caged by unconstitutional policing?

I have a cousin with a very mischievous sense of humor. Years ago when we got to spend serious time together, I remember pouring out some of my troubles to her. She would listen sympathetically but at the end she would give me an impish smile and advise, “Well, Lib, you know it could be a whole lot worse!” My eyes would widen with anticipation. “How’s that?” I pressed. “It could be happening to ME!” she shot back.

We would have a good laugh over that one. Well, actually, she would cackle uproariously and I would manage to force a chuckle.


Week after week after week, victim after victim after victim.

Will the majority of our citizens continue to ignore the unignore-able? Give a tch, tch here. A tch, tch there. Here a body, there a body, but seriously not care? I mean seriously not give a God damn?

I worry. I doubt. I mourn.

In June I was notified via a World Can't Wait email of a meeting on the upper East side of New York at the Church of All Souls (apt name) seeking participants who wanted to put an end to the national epidemic of police terrorism.

HELL YES!!! I ran not walked there.

There in the church basement were fellow New Yorkers, about 150, all colors, affiliations, ages, both genders, eager to rally to STOP THE INSANITY. I myself a blogger. An only occasional (I am ashamed to admit) hit the street activist. From the anti-Vietnam War, pro-civil rights generation. Eventual Green Party member who got mightily disgusted by the betrayal of the corporate-captured Dem Party.

When I attend such rallies for liberal causes I can’t help do the math. New York City is the home of 8.5 million people. Why can’t so many more of them feel the same urgency and alarm that, say, this particular eclectic group of 150 people in that church basement were feeling.

Carl Dix and Dr. Cornell West, two champions of civil rights, had called the meeting in order specifically to organize a protest the weekend of October 22-24 in NYC against police terrorism.

When Carl Dix spoke he kept emphasizing the intention to “saturate” the City with outraged and conscience-awakened citizens.

“Saturate” was the word he kept using and it annoyed me for its bold optimism. Really? Good luck with that, but I wanted so much to believe it could happen.

I kept having to exhale deeply. We were to activate fellow citizens to hit the streets by the end of October to express their concern for the victims of police violence and to demand an end to an unjust legal system in America.

In less than three months?


Well, the evidence of a dangerous police state was clearly out there for any to fathom. The numerous victims/martyrs. The list grew every week. The surreal statistics were finally getting aired in the media. Such as from NYT and WAPO, despite there having been approximately 1000 deadly police shootings each year for the past ten years in America, in all that time there had been in total less than 60 indictments and less than 25 prosecutions of police officers.

The meeting stirred me profoundly. The focus on the horrors of police terrorism and unjust mass incarceration -- to a “genocidal” degree some declared. The testimonies of surviving relatives of some of the victims of police murder who described graphically and pitifully the senselessness of the killings of their loved ones and the lack of accountability thereafter.

Also, again, what I found thrilling but worrisome was a focus on those citizens who prefer to play ostrich. Who stubbornly deny or minimize the gravity of what has happened in this country. Who are willing to ignore the unignore-able one more time. Who choose numbness and to be authoritarian followers unless and until life and death consequences directly impact them or their loved ones.

Here is a quote from Carl Dix about the necessity to challenge people who want to keep their heads stuck in that only temporary and/or delusionary safe sand.

“We have to draw a huge dividing line in society over these outrages and challenge people with the question: Which side are you on? There is no room for neutrality here. There is no middle ground. You are either standing with the people who are acting to STOP these attacks or you are OK with racists in and out of uniform murdering Black people.”

Well, that certainly and bluntly says it.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

Using my own words I would ask people to consider if they are allied with love for the entire family of men, women and children and with their awakened conscience or if they are on the side of EVIL.

I now am willing myself to believe that allied love and righteousness will defeat evil.

There is an expression popular from the anti-Vietnam War era, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.” In that era, we citizens did finally reach a critical mass of on-our-feet anti-establishment status quo protest. May we be able to do it again. Sooner rather than later!!!!

Dr. Cornell West had this to say about reversing the toxic and deadly status quo that is America right now:

“It’s a beautiful thing when you’re on fire for justice whether you’re a Revolutionary Communist like my brother (referring to Carl Dix), whether you’re a Revolutionary Muslim like Malcolm X, a Revolutionary Buddhist, ... or a Revolutionary Christian like myself”. ... “Revolutionary comes in a lot of different forms but, the important thing is the overlap that focus on the dignity of those that Sly and the Family Stone called Everyday People”. ... “Of Everyday people you hate the fact that they’re being treated unjustly. You loathe the fact that they’re being treated unfairly”.

This isn’t rocket science.

It is about brotherly and sisterly love. It is about abandoning our shallow consumer identity as Americans and embracing our citizen one.

It is also about committed and courageous team work to shift America from a patriarchal, merciless, win/lose, might makes right, profits over people, double-standard, competitive, sociopathic, violent, racist, sexist paradigm to a humanist one that promotes empathy, win/win cooperation and partnership, peace and love.

#RiseUpOctober 22-24 NYC to protest police terrorism! Please endorse the call by signing the petition.

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Submitted by libbyliberal on

jo, this is interesting --

Rebecca Greig

The death of a lion, especially one that has been killed illegally, is unwelcome and unfortunate, but is it a tragedy?

One person dies from armed conflict every minute - the number of deaths from road accidents is double that. Every day around the world an estimated 21,000 children die from the consequences of poverty -- that’s one child dying every second from hunger, preventable diseases and other related causes.

Four million newborns are dying in their first month of life and half a million women die every year from childbirth and pregnancy-related complications. Since Syria’s civil war began four years ago, more than 220,000 people have died.

The death of Cecil has captured the public imagination in a way that thousands of dead Syrians hasn't. Why do we care more about the death of a lion than a stampede of shootings, stabbings, gang-rapes and torture?

Is it, to use Joseph Stalin's oft-quoted phrase, that, “one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic?”

Or is it something more?

Humans can watch news of whole families obliterated in times of war, and put the thought to one side as they go to eat dinner. But if a beloved pet dies or a partner goes off with someone else tears and recrimination can last for months.

There’s a logic to this way of thinking.

People can only cope with so much suffering, the rationale goes. We are most affected by those close to us, stories we can relate to, animals who ask nothing more of us than food and affection.

But there may be another factor at play.

It wasn’t just any old lion that died -- it was Cecil — a man among lions, distinctively maned, and the subject of an Oxford University study. A safari park official called him “an icon,” but he was more than that -- he was a celebrity.

Every year, Americans kill 360 lions -- a Cecil every day -- where are the tears for them? Where is the outrage?

Rich American tourists kill hundreds of lions each year, and it’s all legal

— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 29, 2015

Cecil has a name. He cannot be forgotten unlike those other, nameless, lions.

Dr. Palmer, a long-time hunting enthusiast, did not regret killing a lion but he regretted killing Cecil. Speaking to the Star Tribune, Dr. Palmer said, “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite.”

This is the heart of the problem - if you’re killed, it helps to be a celebrity, whether human or beast.

For the rest -- the three-quarters of a million black men incarcerated in the U.S, the tens of thousands of child brides in Bangladesh, the 3000 African children dying daily of malaria -- suffering goes mostly unnoted and unheard.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

A fellow New Yorker; I should have known.
I have no answer to your question. On the other hand, I have numerous answers to your question.
I'd boil it down to human nature and particularly, U.S. culture; toxic at best; with a strong dose of fear; relentlessly beaten into the day to day realities.
I self exiled, feeling it was my only option after witnessing the downward spiral for 58 years...
The invasion of Iraq was my last straw.
Cheers LL; and don't let the bastards get you.

Submitted by libbyliberal on


You help me do a reality/morality check. thanks.

You were truly proactive about the criminality of US governance and left. It is heartbreaking and horrifying. I respect that decision.

You know when I watched the US goose-step into the Iraq War and wondered why the media was totally going along with the wmd nonsense, the sirens of cognitive dissonance were blaring In my head. YET, I felt so helpless from my ignorance and at the mercy of the pols and the media. I knew they were doing evil things but it was all so messy and creepy and not well analyzed for us as citizens. And when you only have your feelings that are calling out the evil, you feel all the more powerless.

And there was so much jingoism about 9/11.

So we went to war with a country that didn't like bin Laden and had nothing to do with 9/11. WTF? And Afghanistan offered to arrest bin Laden and hand him over to our government as a police action. No war. And all Afghanistan wanted was some form of evidence that bin Laden had been behind 9/11 and Bush decided that was an excuse to bomb the sh*t out of Afghanistan.

VA, it is all so gobsmackingly evil.

I made a promise to myself that I would try to stay awake and informed about US foreign policy which is getting harder and harder especially if you rely on US corporate media. But I try to keep holding that tiger by the tail. and what I am learning from reliable internet sources doesn't jive with the lazy and craven propaganda from the warmongering US.

And I see that Israel seems to have made the hit list of what countries in ME are to be toppled and the US is as usual following instructions.

Re Iran, I know there is a catch -- and probably more hidden ones - despite the shrieks of the war mongering Repubs who think the US is being soft. That will be the day. Iran is promising not to do any more what it has never done is how I see it.

Before the internet gets seriously censored there are some great places that have been consistently on target with the truth. Now I watch the NewsHour and recognize the bullshit when I used to worship more or less their take on things. Watching the nightmares of Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Honduras -- the evil that our foreign policy does on a massive scale. And Hillary posing as America's maternal sweetheart makes me sick to my stomach -- all her violent decisions as SoS. And Bernie with his horrible record on foreign policy.

I remember reading how during the Iraq War, stage one, members of Congress were clueless as to the difference between Shiites and Sunni. I bet most of them still are. And yet destabilization for disaster capitalism was the name of the game.

Gotta go for now. Thanks for responding to this ... libby rant above and after lambert's comment I went off a lot.

We shall see about the NYC march.

I grew up in CT but have been in NYC for decades. What does the rest of the world do for stress I ask people when I leave NY. But a good stress. Energizing. The biggest free show in the world one of my brother's calls it.

All my black arm band years. I was always trying to talk other activists into wearing them as well. Oh well.

best, libby

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

LL: Thank you for that considered reply. Glad I can be of some value to reality and morality checking.
I do not consider reasonableness to be a relevant way to respond/deal with the horror, perpetrated by the lead terrorist of the planet earth; which could easily be furthered to include the solar system. That's quite the trophy, previously held by Nazi Germany.
I love the U.S., as defined by the political borders; but have utter contempt for the governance class; every one of the bankrupt bastards. With the apathy realized, or rather, the fury intentionally mis-directed, I could no longer support that fraud, either materially or physically; exit stage left...
You are a genuine scrapper; keep up the good work, but know when to quit and take care of yourself, cheers

Submitted by lambert on

I have only one person to be responsible for; but if it was a whole family with children, my attitudes might be very different. People need to see very concrete paths forward to a better place. Outrages to justice are not enough in the abstract, sadly. (The #BlackLivesMatter people, I believe, are animated by the belief that "It could have been me." And they're right. Hence the strategic use of empathy.)

All that said, it sounds like this is a splendid effort and I am very glad you found it!!!!!! Please keep us posted!

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


lambert, I appreciate your take. obviously it is true. that doesn't make it right. that doesn't make it a necessary paradigm.

And it does smack of racism -- the minimization of what is happening to victims of police violence and what has been happening with victims of US imperial violence. An ugly racism that exists in American exceptionalism.

I am friggin' sick of my fellow citizens letting a courageous minority twist in the wind when citizens could have their backs and could push back against the amoral and sadistic authoritarians bulldozing and draconian punishments of those brave enough to assert -- help them, protect them. They don't have to put themselves in the center of the target. Just make an appearance for God's sake! Just break through the apathy and narcissism and complacency and RACISM!!!!!

No quid pro quo here. It is not about stupidity though intellectual laziness and emotional cowardice. And collective sociopathy.

The websites I went to when OWS was cooking often enraged me with the old timers sitting around criticizing the young not being organized enough in OWS instead of joining up and offering their energy. It was sickening. It was a lot like during the anti-Vietnam War era when the older generation didn't want to hear what the younger generation was saying and they had to go it alone. I was part of that younger generation then. I thought we were superior but now that our generation is of the boomer age so many now want the softer, safer path themselves. Feel good about their glory days and easily betray their fellow humans massively.

Yeah, the authorities have the aces and can and do punish people arbitrarily or deliberately and a lot of dark days are undoubtedly coming since the protesting minority remains too much a minority. Let them be punished in draconian ways as the watchers or ingorers say "meh".

But the more of us joining the fight the less vulnerable the courageous ones who sacrifice so much are. HELLOOOOOO????

So little appreciation of what others do or are going through.

Why not play it safe is the meme? Short term safety, and long term disaster. But maybe I or others will be dead and dodge the end of days bullet so who gives a flying ....?

Snowden in Russia, Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, Manning in the prison cell for all those years.

Gitmo prisoners still being tortured by force feeding and solitary and God knows what.

Minorities being killed for walking with an "attitude" or just being an uppity female who happens to know her rights. Bang bang. No accountability.

So we keep on watching the illegal and immoral actions -- ethical freakshows -- and tch tching it and that is it????

Used to be if 60 minutes van was in your driveway you were going to jail. Now there is sometimes media attention to wrongs, but in immunity for the ruling elite Obamaville, they are laughing all the way to the bank.

I remember fighting for universal health care and people kinda wanted it but not enough to really make it happen. Obama tossed out the public option and so many cheered it and were willing to settle for pure bullshit. WTF??? Yeah, Green Party Jill doesn't accept corporate money but then there's the lesser evil path and I need to lazily vote for a sure thing so sorry Jill. No biggie if I vote this way ... I want to be in the winner's circle even though the winners are rat bastards ... but lesser rat bastards apparently. And who cares that Bernie is a friggen imperialist and in Israel's pocket?

I blame the media for its compulsive lying but the citizens, most, are addicted to the propaganda, are addicted to being consumers and not real citizens. Are addicted to watching and criticizing but willing to let others sacrificing even their very lives for them choose to do it with an "I don't seriously care, if they are stupid enough to risk so much much, WTF?" "No skin off my nose."

I live in a shamelessly sociopathic US culture. I know that stress makes one narcissistic. Which is why the top dogs can separate so easily those of us on the bottom by pushing triggers of competition and panic. But come on. We each possess a conscience. Where is the outrage?????

There is a limit. There is a friggin' limit.

I never thought I could understand how the Holocaust happened. How could the German people let that happen.

Now I know. So many "good Germans" in America.

Also, I'm thinking it might be good for American kids to see mommy or daddy being a mensch!

best, libby

Submitted by lambert on

There is a lot of sitting back and whining and I like to think I and we don't join in it. After all, we went down to Occupy in DC and I do try to cover all that stuff (my theory being "Do what only you can do"!). It's like Counterpunch going all in against Sanders. Drag the Overton Window left, fer chrissake!

In my reading, you seem to have found an active group that's moving forward in a way that you want. That is cause for true happiness!