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John Whitehead's Commentary

2022’s Danger Signs: From Totalitarian Paranoia to Authoritarian Madness [SHORT]

John Whitehead

The danger signs were everywhere in 2022.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, we were reminded that in the eyes of the government and its corporate accomplices, “we the people” possess no rights except for that which the Deep State grants on an as-needed basis.

Totalitarian paranoia spiked. In a Machiavellian attempt to expand its powers, the government unleashed all manner of dangers on an unsuspecting populace in order to justify its demands for additional powers to protect “we the people” from emerging threats, whether legitimate, manufactured or overblown.

The state of our nation suffered. The nation remained politically polarized, controlled by forces beyond the purview of the average American, and rapidly moving the nation away from its freedom foundation.

Thought crimes became a target for punishment. Those who criticized the government—whether that criticism manifested itself in word, deed or thought—were flagged as dangerous alongside consumers and spreaders of “mis- dis- and mal-information.”

Speech was muzzled. Those who want to monitor, muzzle, catalogue and censor speech continued to push for social media monitoring, censorship of flagged content that could be construed as dangerous or hateful, and limitations on free speech activities, particularly online.

The government spoke in a language of violence. Police violence killed three people a day. Warrior cops—trained in the worst-case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—did not make us or themselves any safer. Despite this, President Biden’s pledged to expand law enforcement and so-called crime prevention through a $30 billion “Fund the Police” program.

Cancel culture became more intolerant. Cancel culture shifted us into an Age of Intolerance, policed by techno-censors, social media bullies, and government watchdogs. Everything has now become fair game for censorship if it can be construed as hateful, hurtful, bigoted or offensive provided that it runs counter to the established viewpoint.

Homes were invaded. Government agents routinely violated the Fourth Amendment at will under the pretext of public health and safety. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the many ways the government and its corporate partners-in-crime used surveillance technology to invade homes: with wiretaps, thermal imaging, surveillance cameras, and other monitoring devices.

Political theater kept the public distracted. Having devolved into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population, the political scene provided ample diversions with its televised Jan. 6 committee hearings, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings, and more.

Bodily integrity was undermined. Although the Supreme Court overturned its earlier rulings recognizing abortion as a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment, it did nothing to resolve the larger problem that plagues us today: namely, that all along the spectrum of life—from the unborn child to the aged—the government continues to play fast and loose with the lives of the citizenry.

The government’s fiscal insanity reached new heights. The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) hit $30 trillion. That debt is expected to be twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2051.

Surveillance got creepier. On any given day, the average American going about his daily business was monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. In such a surveillance ecosystem, we’re all suspects and databits to be tracked, catalogued and targeted.

Precrime became more fact than fiction. Under the pretext of helping overwhelmed government agencies work more efficiently, AI predictive and surveillance technologies were used to classify, segregate and flag the populace with little concern for privacy rights or due process.

Gun confiscation laws put a target on the back of every American. Red flag gun laws (which authorize government officials to seize guns from individuals viewed as a danger to themselves or others) gained traction as a legislative means by which to allow police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats. Red flag gun laws merely push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless.

The Supreme Court turned America into a Constitution-free zone. Although the Court’s rulings on qualified immunity for police who engage in official misconduct were largely overshadowed by its politically polarizing rulings on abortion, gun ownership and religion, they were no less devastating. The bottom line: there will be no consequences for cops who brutalize the citizenry and no justice for the victims of police brutality.

The FBI went rogue. The FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people ran the gamut from surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, and intimidation tactics to harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know.

The government waged war on political freedom. In more and more cases, the government declared war on what should be protected political speech whenever it challenges the government’s power, reveals the government’s corruption, exposes the government’s lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

The military industrial complex waged more wars. America’s part in the showdown between Russia and the Ukraine conveniently followed on the heels of a long line of other crises which have occurred like clockwork in order to keep Americans distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms.

Authoritarian madness escalated. You didn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to recognize the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate. When any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and an utter disregard for the rights of the individual, there should be reason for concern.

The takeaway: the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, if there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it rests—as it always has—at the local level, with “we the people."

Unless we work together to push back against the government’s overreach, excesses and abuse, 2023 will be yet another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for freedom.

WC: 1098

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

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