A rising police state is a reality

The Associated Press reported a lecture given by Supreme Court Justice Antony Scalia in which he said World War II-style internment camps could easily be a reality today as well:

Scalia was responding to a question about the court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the convictions of Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu for violating an order to report to an internment camp.

“Well of course [the decision of] Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again,” Scalia told students and faculty during a lunchtime Q-and-A session.

Scalia cited a Latin expression meaning, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.”

“That’s what was going on – the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality,” he said.

That’s what we really need to consider, folks, and what should get us really worked up at this point in American history: reality versus what is justified. We live in an America that is growing more and more like a police state. It is not justified, but it is the reality.

Consider the latest from Radley Balko. He reports on a SWAT-style police raid in which there was very little knocking and whole lot of busting down, as well as police trying to destroy evidence. And it was all over—not drugs!—it was all over suspected credit card fraud. He writes:

Watch this video, taken from a police raid in Des Moines, Iowa. Send it to some people. When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we’re talking about. You’ll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family’s door with a battering ram. You’ll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready. More troubling still, you’ll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera’s lens.

From the images in the video, you’d think they were looking for an escaped murderer or a house full of hit men. No, none of that. They were looking for a few people suspected of credit card fraud. None of the people they were looking for were inside of the house, nor was any of the stolen property they were looking for. They did arrest two houseguests of the family on what the news report says were unrelated charges, one for a probation violation and one for possession of illegal drugs.

Worse, this is not an aberration. It is now common, everywhere.

[T]he use of these kinds of tactics for nonviolent crimes like credit card fraud is hardly unusual, and it’s happening more often, not less. I’ve reported on jurisdictions where all felony search warrants are now served with a SWAT team.

Imagine that: it being policy that all felony search warrants are served this way!

And this reality is also creeping its way into the courts: “At least one federal appeals court has now ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, there’s nothing unreasonable about using a SWAT team to perform regulatory inspections.

And while Scalia’s point was that something as drastic as internment camps can happen specifically in war time, these dangerous, freakishly unconstitutional, and often deadly police raids take place all over the country every day. As I previously reported, SWAT teams are routinely deployed 100 to 150 times per day in this country. That is the reality, but is it justified?

As I wrote in an that earlier piece, this is something that will require concentrated local attention to correct, and the pulpits need to be involved.

With a focus on wisdom and fiscal discipline, we can begin to restore freedom in this area. But wisdom and fiscal discipline are two very difficult things to come by, especially in public policy. Balko gives great recommendations, but successful reform will need to go much deeper. Militarization has become a culture and part of the American psyche. These are issues that need to be addressed by pulpits and pundits everywhere, and armed with lots of prayer.

We had better get serious about reversing this trend, and we had better get serious about it now. There are some prominent people who seem to think we have already crossed the point of no return. If we do not get serious now, at the local level, at every local level, I am afraid they will be correct.

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