Boston and the Police State
Though not particularly articulated as such, I think that American’s reluctance to wage war is the fact that the use of force is done in the absence of due process. But, saying that, when Americans to wage war, a successful war, it is best done in the American style of warfare–to take the battle to the enemy and take the enemy apart. One of the distinct advantages of this style of warfare is the fact, by virtue of distance, the rule of law can be preserved at home while the violation of such occurs on the enemy’s territory.
Which brings us to the manner in which the manhunt for the two Muslim terrorists was conducted in Boston. In some respects, the response should be frightening. A whole city shut down by a literal army of militarized police forces, all with weapons unholstered and at the ready. Door to door searches by these same government agents against an essentially unarmed civilian populace. Massachusetts’ gun law make it so; if these gun laws existed in 1775 there’d be no Lexington or Concord and we’d all be speaking Canadian (ht: P.J. O’Rourke).
This brings into direct relief the wisdom of the manner in which our last President chose to fight. That is, taking the battle to the enemy. It had the advantage of keeping the enemy so busy that they had to time to take the initiative to our shores. It avoided having to fight a battle in the midst of your own civilian population with all of the attendant problems of stretching the Bill of Rights. With a city essentially under martial law, complete with police forces essentially indistinguishable for infantry soldiers, where were the limits? Could they enter a house against the owner’s wishes? What questions could or did they ask? “Did you see anyone that looked like the two bombers?” Or, “Are you hiding someone here? We’ll need to come and check.” “Do you have any guns, we’ll need to make sure.”
Not paranoia. With out any warrants, the police entered multiple homes in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and seized guns. Guns to this very day that haven’t been returned.
First, is the problem of blowing the problem up out of proportion. Let’s face it, two terrorists against a city of millions and the whole city shut down. In some less ‘enlightened’ cities in fly-over country, the minute those two came up for air, it would have been all over before the police arrived. The shoot out at the Seven-Eleven that left the older of the two dead, would have ended with both of those two dead or captured in the hands of armed citizens before the police arrived.
But, like Mumbai in 2008, a terrorist plot paralyzed an entire city because the extinction of a gun culture, so it is with Boston. A population totally habituated to letting the ‘experts,’ the ‘authorities’ handle it. A entire city unable to two isolated losers because only the authorities should handle guns. In my hometown of Casper, where essentially every household is armed, these two fugitives wouldn’t have a chance. Yes, they might still set off a bomb. But, after that, they better be miles out of town if they want a chance to survive.
More to the point is the fact that by creating a conditioning of someone else handling the problem, we create bigger problems than if we trusted our own citizens to use their judgement and handle the problem on a ‘retail’ level. Think back to September 11, 2001. What if the eight pilots and copilots were armed? (And, don’t give me the shocked response of ‘guns on an airplane, they’ll go off and we’ll crash!’. The planes crashed anyway.) What if the common ‘wisdom,’ going back to the first hijackings in the 60’s to Cuba of sitting by passively had not applied and the passengers rushed the hijackers. How much different the fundamental history of the last decade would have been.
Then, there is the conditioning that placing an entire city under essentially martial law is now the norm. Maybe it was, in this case, justified in the name of public safety. But, what about the future, will the deployment of an army in a major city be done for baser reasons? Rooting out undesirables? Confiscating guns? Searching to ‘incriminating’ contraband? Public safety or dry run for a police state?