on living in a police state

April 27, 2010 § 6 Comments

(picture of collage of a tree and flowers and chains. it reads: border home lands)

so arizona decided to become a police state.  i have to minds about this.

on the one hand.  this is so fucked.  and if you are reading this blog im sure you dont need me to run down the list of reasons that this is so so so fucked.

on the other hand.  im kinda like–meh.  i mean, a police state is fucked.  dont get me wrong.  its just not unusual or abnormal.  ten years ago when i was living in nyc there was a law (maybe it still exists?) that you had to have your id on you at all times.  and the police could ask for your id at any given time.  and you would be charged if you didnt produce it.

and a couple of years ago in dc, the police roped off an entire section of the city, and created summer checkpoints and the law was  that if you didnt have proof that you lived there, or had a good reason for being there, you would be turned away.

and of course palestinians inside of israel as well as in the west bank and gaza have lived under a police state for decades.

oh yeah, and so do we, here in egypt.

so trust me, i know how fucked up, scary, unjust, life-threatening it can be to live under a police state.

it produces a level of chronic stress that can erode the mind and the body. it severely limits your choices.  the arbitrary decisions of a uniformed officer can decide your fate in a moment’s notice.

and for the past few years i have seen connections in how the imperial government of the us acts in third world countries and how it acts on its own border. walls, police states, weapons build up, etc. etc.

the sad thing is that you get used to it.  you learn to swim around and through and over the hurdles.  you learn that safety is an illusion.

you learn that other people, who arent living in the heat, forget or refuse to see how hot the desert can be.

and part of me wants to evoke the tipping point or some other metaphor that says–when the empire is falling, it will tighten its grasp on your heart, feeding off your blood.  tighten its grasp on your freedom and your life, because empires by definition are vampires and hollow and always always hungry.

but it sounds like the heat that has swirled around and choked the lives of so many people around the world are once again hitting the shores/borders of the usa.  and the progressive left is incensed.

but a lot of the us-based progressive left rhetoric sounds a bit too much like: how dare they do this to US.  as if living in the us is a guarantee against living in a police state.  as if the police state that the us exports to the rest of the world was just ‘out there’.  and ‘in here’ were different issues to face.

the thing about us-centrism in radical movements is that us-centrism can create a blindness.  a blindness that means that we get blind-sighted by our own sense of entitlement.  and thus unprepared for what the fall of an empire means.  that ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ are illusory empty concepts.  like safety. like hope.

dont get me wrong (and folks are prone to at times) i am not saying that we should not oppose a police state in az.  i am asking that we see this in a larger context than simply immigration policy in the states.  that we understand that the empire uses the same tactics in locale after locale.  and we would do well to learn from those who have been opposing police states, this imperial police states, and its tentacles, for a lot longer than the past few days…

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