Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 5:47 am | Fair 39º

 
 
 
 

Randy Alcorn: As Our Rights Are Stripped Away, Are We Feeling Safer Yet?

Stepped-up airport security is only America's latest stride toward a police state

Now that it’s here, the reality of intensified airport security has shocked air travelers like a taser. A groping strip search, physical or electronic, performed by armed authorities is an intimidating invasion of person and an assault on dignity that is incompatible with fundamental American ideals of civil rights. Yet, the Fourth Amendment notwithstanding, once at the terminal, passengers who refuse to be screened are subject to arrest and a brutal fine. The definition of unreasonable search and seizure is now whatever the authorities say it is.

Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn

When the electronic scanners and pat-downs arrived at U.S. airports, the steadily expanding police power that has been creeping over America like kudzu may have finally become glaringly conspicuous. If they take a good look around, citizens will notice that the landscape of constitutional America is covered with cops.

It’s not just the Transportation Security Administration and its onerous airport security; it’s the ubiquitous sobriety dragnets, the overzealous war on drugs, the FBI, the DEA, the CIA, ATF, ICE, the state police, the city police, and the county police. There is so much police protection in America that the only thing left for Americans to be protected from is ... the police.

Internet posting of two videos, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police, and Busted: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters, the former produced by an ex-cop, were made to instruct citizens about their civil rights when confronted by the police, and to alert them about police misconduct. That these videos had to be made is disturbing enough, but most disturbing are the thousands of postings by ordinary people from across the nation who have reported their own alarmingly abusive treatment by police.

Police power has expanded because Americans have succumbed to fear, which has often been perpetuated by power mongering politicians and law-enforcement establishments. When alcohol prohibition ended, threatening to diminish police jobs and power, the law-enforcement establishment invented another dire threat from which to protect Americans. That threat was drugs, which has given us the futile, eternal, war on drugs.

Starting in the 1960s, it was no longer only certain urban minorities who got to experience the blessings of expansive police protection, it was Middle America’s sons and daughters smoking pot at college and protesting the Vietnam War who were now the targets of police power. It continues to be the innocent victims whose homes are mistakenly invaded or whose property is confiscated in the rabid conduct of the war on drugs. It is the rowdy young BART passenger shot dead by an agitated cop. It is the elderly Atlanta woman chatting with her friends on the sidewalk who was handcuffed and jailed because she dared question a police officer’s order to move. It is the young woman found dead after police confiscated her car and left her alone in a dangerous neighborhood. It is Rodney King being beaten unmercifully by a gang of peeved police officers.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks bestowed on law enforcement a windfall opportunity to expand police power. The war on terror, like the war on drugs, is a police state’s dream because it can be waged indefinitely — sustained by public fear that is easily refueled with rumors, misinformation, exaggerations and the occasional foiled terrorist plot.

But, as with the war on drugs, the war on terror is waged with an intensity that is disproportionate to the threat, and is nearly as futile. The TSA will always be a step behind suicidal terrorists. Plug one hole and another opens somewhere else. Body scanners cannot penetrate body cavities. When the first terrorist is found with explosives inside his body, will the TSA then subject air travelers to proctologic and gynecological examinations?

If this is to remain the land of the truly free, and if it is truly the home of the brave, then the best response to terrorism is to not be terrorized. This police-state nonsense has to end before the fear of subversion from outside perpetrates subversion from inside. As the Gestapo and KGB have demonstrated, a relatively small police force employing terror can subjugate an entire nation. The trade-off for freedom is risk. America will never be risk free, but it may lose itself attempting to be.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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