THE FRAMEWORK FOR SUPPRESSING INFORMATION: Public Opinion in America’s 21st Century Police State
by Prof. James F. Tracy
May 20, 2012
The police state’s framework for suppressing information and opinion arguably threatens all forms of independent thought and appears poised to intensify as the “war on terror” continues. As the recent emergence of US plans for indoctrination in reeducation camps reveals, Western governments’ actual enemy is the capacity for a people to exercise critical thought en route to intervening in and altering political-economic processes.
Public opinion—defined by 19th century English political thinker William MacKinnon as “that sentiment on any given subject which is entertained by the best informed, most intelligent, and most moral persons in the community”—is fundamentally at odds with police state prerogatives also exemplified in recent US Department of Homeland Security documents.
The technocratic mindset of agencies such as the DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation that oversee federal, state, and local policing procedures seeks to short-circuit and quell dissent by identifying transgressive thought that deviates from an assumed normalcy, then interlinking it with perceived threats or violent actions against the state. In a grand governmental exercise of Freudian-style projection, the DHS’s usage of inflammatory terms such as “terrorist” and “extremist” are routinely utilized to emphasize the nature and degree of various activist groups’ alleged deviant ideologies. This practice proceeds in light of the fact that most every “terrorist” act within the US since 9/11 has been carefully guided by the FBI or, as was the case with the initial “underwear bomber, Western intelligence agencies likely working in concert.
A November 2011 DHS document, “Domestic Terrorism and Homegrown Violent Extremism Lexicon”, is the agency’s recent codification of terms intended to instruct and aid government officials in recognizing “threats of terrorism against the United States by facilitating a common understanding of the terms and conditions that describe terrorist threats to the United States [sic].”
Then, in a fashion that will be familiar to those who understand the tactics of groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, an untenable array of activist pursuits spanning the political spectrum—“Anarchist Extremists”, “Animal Rights Extremists”, “Anti-Abortion Extremists”, “Environmental Rights Extremists”—are libelously lobbed together and defined alongside designations including “Racist Skinhead Extremists”, “Homegrown Violent Extremist”, “Radicalization”, and “Terrorism”.
As with the phalanx of totalitarian-like legislation such as the PATRIOT Acts that potentially pit the militarized security state against the US population, through intentional ambiguity Homeland Security’s definitions of “terrorism” and “radicalization” come perilously close to classifying critical thought and expression of almost any sort as terrorism.