New York Times columnist Ross Douthat today predicts that Americans will react mainly with complacency over government Internet and telephone surveillance. He goes on to assure us "America isn't about to turn into East Germany with Facebook pages."
For us, the age of surveillance is more likely to drift toward what Alexis de Toqueville described as "soft despotism" or what the Forbes columnist James Poulos has dubbed "the pink police state."
Our government will enjoy extraordinary, potentially tyrannical powers, but most citizens will be monitored without feeling persecuted or coerced.
What police state officer from East Germany eastward could express it better?
So instead of a climate of pervasive fear, there will be a chilling effect at the margins of political discourse, mostly affecting groups and opinions considered disreputable already.
As a member of a "group" or two with an "opinion" or two "considered disreputable already," I feel pin-prick shivers over such complacency. The casual use of the word "disreputable," the surrender of the "margins of political discourse" are themselves alarming.
Here's an example of how that chilling effect already works. The US government, acting in accord with known Muslim Brotherhood front groups, has officially scrubbed the facts of jihad from the training and analysis of all government security agencies and the military (just as, I report in American Betrayal, the US government scrubbed the facts of Communism during WWII censorship); therefore, those who teach it and even have a negative opinion of it are already "disreputable." What does the pink police state do next?
Probably nothing -- nothing aside from keeping the temperature low on those "margins of political discourse." Such margins are now, according to Douthat, effectively no-go-zones for the First Amendment. We, the Sheeple don't need a Gulag; we just need to see a few proverbial heads on the stake: Rep. Michele Bachmann, "McCarthy-ized" for raising the issue of MB penetration; LTC Matt Dooley, fired by US military for teaching the dangers of Islamic jihad and Islamic law; Jason Richwine, fired by Heritage Foundation for analyzing IQ data showing ethnic/racial IQ differences; Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, jailed for a year by the pink police state for "parole violations" after he broke Islamic law with "Innocence of Muslims." Somehow, the endlessly targeted Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arapaio, elected five times by the people of Maricopa County, keeps chugging on.
What reputable person will now bring up Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the US government, jihad analysis for counterterrorism and military training, immigrant IQ, the rapine and jihad of Mohammed or that electronic piece of artwork masquerading as a birth certificate at the White House website?
Douthat goes on to predict not a "top-down program of political repression," but rather "a more haphazard pattern of politically motivated, Big-Data-enabled abuses."
Not everyone will suffer -- just those the disreputabli on the margins of the pink police state.
But couldn't a new Lenin get on board with this?
In this atmosphere, radicalism and protest will seem riskier, paranoia will be more reasonable, and conspiracy theories will proliferate. But because genuinely dangerous people will often be pre-empted or more swiftly caught, the privacy-for-security swap will seem like a reasonable trade-off to many Americans...
The columnist shrugs.
When state powers are "potentially tyrannical" they are neither pink nor soft. They are lawless.