30 August 2020

Police country tactics

Did you ever stop and think about the broader implication of the police stamping down the protests?

Let me put that question in a different form.

Did you ever wonder how come that Northern Koreans do not raise against their dictator after decades of mistreatment?

If you asked yourself that second question but not the first, then you are not realizing how lucky you are to live in the country that has First Amendment. 

I grew up in the country with no protection of the speech. And citizens considered criticizing government particularly dangerous. 

My country of origin did not start like that. My grandparents were telling me that after the second world war, everything was full of vigor and passion and wish for a better society. But then, slowly, the government started squeezing the population. 

It started very similar to what is going on now with police and protests. The government got an excuse with a rise of Stalin to remove itself from the Eastern block and stamp down the evil Stalinist who wanted to turn our country into Soviet Union colony, as they did with most of the other Eastern block countries. 

My grandparents told me, police beat people who dared to protest. The police came and took away people who organized protests. No one ever saw those people again. 

My grandparents told me that’s how it started.

It did not stop.

The danger of Stalin went away. But the tactic used by the government of my country of origin did not change. There were always some other enemies. 

No one ever protested. I grew up in a country where only protests appeared just before the country slid into civil war. Nothing before. Regardless of how bad it was.

The police stamping down protests is usually just the first step in securing dictatorship. There is another little action dictators do to make sure people do not organize. 

The next step declared that there are spies among us. And that genuine patriots report spies and suspicious behavior. It did not take long before people seized such tactics as a great way to get rid of annoying people. 

Your neighbor is pissing you off? Easy, say he was glorifying Stalin. Police arrests troublesome neighbors and your problem is gone. 

I grew up watching TV comedy shows about such incidents, a funny story about two neighbors where one neighbor caused the other to be shipped off to “Goli Otok”, a desolate island with political prisoners. All my family laughed at the show. And the entire family ignored the inconvenient fact that I grew up with my mother snarling at me not to repeat anything I hear in the house. 

During my parent’s generation times, the government declared Sorosh an enemy who was sending spies. Yes, believe or not, a country with officially Communist, the left government considered Sorosh evil. Do not be surprised. Sorosh promoted democracy, and the government at the time was de facto dictatorship and oligarchy. Communism was just a handy ideology to exploit. Dictatorships do that, they use religion, ideology, conspiracies, whatever works to convince people there are enemies around and only dictator can save them. 

So the same tactics continued. I grew up with parents telling me not to trust anyone outside our family. I should not even trust family members who had friends that worked as police. 

My family had an awful experience with family members who were working for the police. This happened when I was too little to remember details. But, according to my mother, a distant relative who worked as a police officer arrested my uncle to push up his own career. My uncle was a stupid teenager hanging out with other stupid teenagers and doing silly stuff. According to my mother, my uncle did nothing wrong but ended up going to prison because he did not wish to snitch on his friends. 

What was behind the entire event, I do not know. I never heard the other side. But I know that my mother’s version was considered possible. It was well known that one has to be careful about whom to believe. 

And that’s how dictators take full control. First, you beat the crap out of the protesters, arrest, and kill protest leaders declaring them the enemy of the society. And to prevent protests even to appear, start awarding people who report their neighbors as enemies.  

In the end, governments end up with a population who can see that things are going badly but cannot do or say anything because they do not trust other people around them. If you say something police will grab you and kill you in the night.  If someone else says something, how can you be sure they are not government agents trying to provoke you to say something wrong and get into trouble? 

In the end, that’s how the civil war started in my country. A bunch of extremists started yelling, and everyone else went silent. People like me thought they were the only ones who thought that war is wrong, that ideas which were pushed were wrong. I and countless others never dared to raise a voice in protest. And I still wonder if we did, maybe all that bloodshed would not happen.

So, I will finish up this by saying treasure your First Amendment. The ability to criticize the government, to assemble, is precious. Treasure it. 

As long as there is First Amendment neither you nor your neighbor will end up being tortured and killed. 

Protect First Amendment and do not trust any government that tells you protests are riots. In 9 out of 10 cases, they are not.

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