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The Total Surveillance State

A friend who teaches international law put me onto this 8-minute documentary by the Wall Street Journal, taking a look at China’s surveillance state in restive Xinjiang province. I urge you to watch it. There is no reason, other than the will of the people, why this technology cannot be used in the US. Notice how the mobility and even the economic liberty of the people depends on whether or not their government-issued ID cards indicate that they are “safe” or not. Notice too how those deemed “unsafe” are sent away for political re-education.

Liberal readers are going to roll their eyes at this, but this is where Social Justice Warriors would take American society, in order to make the country a safe space. Take a look at law professor Josh Blackman’s account of student protesters at CUNY Law School protesting his lecture on free speech. This excerpt begins after Blackman, who prior to coming to campus had said that President Obama’s executive order on DREAMers was unconstitutional, told the protesters that he supported the DREAM Act:

There were audible gasps in the room. “This might surprise you. I think the DREAM Act is a good piece of legislation.” Someone yelled out “Gaslighting.” I continued: “Were I a member of Congress . . .” Someone interrupted me. I said, “Let me speak, please.” A number of students shouted out, “Nah.” I continued, “Were I a member of Congress, I would vote for the DREAM Act. My position is that the policy itself was not consistent with the rule of law. Which teaches a lesson.” Someone started snapping and booing. “The lesson is you can support something as a matter of policy.” Someone shouted, “What about human rights?” I continued, “but find that the law does not permit it. And then the answer is to change the law.”

A student shouted out “F*** the law.” This comment stunned me. I replied, “F*** the law? That’s a very odd thing. You are all in law school. And it is a bizarre thing to say f*** the law when you are in law school.” They all started to yell and shout over me.

F*** the law. From tomorrow’s lawyers and judges.

Watch that Wall Street Journal clip, then ask yourself: how would you practice your faith as an American if the government was hostile to it, and carried out total surveillance, as the Chinese do? If you were a Christian, would you say, “Well, they’ve made it too hard. Guess we can’t be Christian anymore”? Many will. But if you really believe, then you will have to find a way to hold on to the faith, and pass it on to your children, despite the totalitarian pressure.

This is why I talk about the Benedict Option [1]. What China is going through may never come to us here — and we have to remain vigilant against that prospect, and fight for liberty. But we religious believers also have to prepare for the day that it might. Some Ben Op critics seem to believe that pointing out that a government that hates Christianity wouldn’t let us practice the faith anyway, therefore the Ben Op is pointless. Let’s leave aside the fact that the Ben Op is a way of being Christian in a post-Christian world in which religious liberty still basically exists — I mean, look, Christianity is not really persecuted now, but it’s unpopular, and people are falling away from the faith in large numbers. The greatest threat to the future of Christianity in America is not government persecution, not by a long shot, but by growing cultural hostility. However: looking beyond that, to a potential America where Christianity is actively persecuted, and done so in part by a total surveillance state, Christians then will have to figure out how to be a Christian in spite of that horrible fact. What do you think Christians in China are having to do today? What do you think Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang are having to do?

I urge my fellow orthodox Christians: use your imagination. It can happen here. The tools to put the total surveillance state into place already exist, and are at work in China. What is happening now, and will be happening in the years to come, is the manufacturing of popular consent. In China, it’s being forced on people. In America, I think it is about as likely that people will welcome it — especially those who are now young, and who have been conditioned by their childhoods and their college experiences to expect “safe spaces” everywhere. Look at those law students at CUNY: despising the law, and despising free speech, in the name of “safety”.

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47 Comments To "The Total Surveillance State"

#1 Comment By Stefan On April 15, 2018 @ 12:24 am

Can we have this in Molenbeek already pretty please? Seriously if capitalism’s dedication to globalist deracination precludes democratic publics from questioning multiculturalism, those same democratic publics will demand total surveillance to construct ersatz meaning among the perceived alienness and hostility of multicultural society. The demand for authoritarianism, in other words, can reveal an abused and cornered democratic spirit as much as the absence of one. So the MAGA crowd is no less likely to demand something like this than the performatively woke left.

#2 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 15, 2018 @ 12:32 am

It’s already coming to America, but we are paying for the privilidge to have our every action tracked. Why? To make life slightly easier: to get better quality targeted ads/product recommendations, to not have to learn where anything is in your town, to be able to pay quickly and easily, be able to know where your loved ones are at all times, to be able to communicate anytime anywhere, to make sure you turned down the thermostat, to be able to comment on somebody you’ve never met’s apocalypse fantasy of the day, etc, etc. If the government wants to do what China’s doing or worse they can, the only thing stopping them is our laws and norms. All it takes is a little fear and the people will beg the government to track every second of their lives and weed out those with dangerous profiles. Looking at our history it’s seems like the red tribe is more likely to push for this, but you never know. If the gubermint doesn’t do it somebody else will (is) write some nice algorithms to use all the data accumulating for social engineering, political manipulation, and personal gain. I seems like a good family project to teach my kids some useful skills for their future.

Rod says:
I mean, look, Christianity is not really persecuted now, but it’s unpopular, and people are falling away from the faith in large numbers. The greatest threat to the future of Christianity in America is not government persecution, not by a long shot, but by growing cultural hostility.

Given this, one would think the smart thing to do would be to not amp up the cultural hostility, no?

#3 Comment By EngineerScotty On April 15, 2018 @ 12:32 am

Liberal readers are going to roll their eyes at this, but this is where Social Justice Warriors would take American society, in order to make the country a safe space. Take a look at law professor Josh Blackman’s account of student protesters at CUNY Law School protesting his lecture on free speech. This excerpt begins after Blackman, who prior to coming to campus had said that President Obama’s executive order on DREAMers was unconstitutional, told the protesters that he supported the DREAM Act:

The problem with this argument is it gan be asserted the other way–there are lots of folks on the left utterly convinced that the “Religious Right” wishes to bring about The Handmaid’s Tale in real life–a technocratic misogynist tyranny. And it’s not hard to find loons who essentially advocate for such a thing.

And this, of course, is a big problem–we have large groups of people in the US convinced that the domestic political opposition means them harm.

Now was the “f*** the law” something uttered in a law class, or at a public speech? (“Lecture” could mean either; though I suspect the latter). If the former; such an attitude might not be good for the prospects of any law student who uttered it; if the latter, there’s a good chance that the remarks you decry were uttered by outside activists. Which doesn’t excuse them, but activists gotta activate.

#4 Comment By MikeS On April 15, 2018 @ 12:53 am

CUNY law students and other Sjw types represent the beginnings of a very real American Totalitarian movement. Just wait until they take control of the power centers like the police and military. No wonder people vote for Trump.

#5 Comment By Jackie Treehorn On April 15, 2018 @ 1:03 am

Unfortunately there is a misguided view prevalent today that ‘the law’ is simply what a bunch of rich, white (!!) men are paid to say it is. Or in the case of Obergefell, you only had to convince 5 out of 9 old people in funny robes that gay marriage was acceptable and should be the the law of the land and presto! It was immediately.

I should also mention, it is amusing that CUNY students who say “F the law” are somehow deemed terribly disrespectful when there is ample evidence of our leaders on BOTH sides ignoring the law whenever it suits them (Obama admin telling ICE not to enforce certain immigration laws, Repubs stonewalling to put in Gorsuch, etc).
F the law indeed!

#6 Comment By Furor On April 15, 2018 @ 4:53 am

Americans would accept this, because anyway they have the approach of a careless jester to many things and the belief in social contract makes being suspicious towards the elites pointless. You have everything written in the saint constitution so why bother observing anything else. So Americans don’t believe in potential bad scenarios but would accept surveillance either because of indifference coming from allegedly secured life comfort, or to hurt those they view as traditionalists, or because Hollywood and journalists will tell them surveillance is fashionable

#7 Comment By JonF On April 15, 2018 @ 6:50 am

Re: Liberal readers are going to roll their eyes at this, but this is where Social Justice Warriors would take American society

Huh? That’s not who would implement this sort of thing in the US. Come on, it would be the law-and-order types and the terrorism-phobes. Heck, I remember the argument of the RealID Acct back in 2005 the Left was opposed to it.

#8 Comment By Brendan On April 15, 2018 @ 7:28 am

Just another thing we need to be aware of that the left will implement against us. It isn’t surprising. The personal is political is their main slogan, isn’t it?

#9 Comment By Adamant On April 15, 2018 @ 7:33 am

“Liberal readers are going to roll their eyes at this, but this is where Social Justice Warriors would take American society, in order to make the country a safe space.”

Only half rolling my eyes. The primary target of any type of ‘smart’ techno-surveillance state are going to be those communities that are currently the target of our currently less than smart surveillance state. The tools may get smarter, but the authoritarian mindset is as old as the hills.

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#10 Comment By JonF On April 15, 2018 @ 7:35 am

Re: Obama admin telling ICE not to enforce certain immigration laws

It’s a very, very old principle that the executive has latitude in enforcing the law. If you have ever gotten off with a warning rather than a ticket from a cop for speeding, a burned out taillight etc, you have been the beneficiary of that sort of latitude.

#11 Comment By Flavia On April 15, 2018 @ 7:37 am

“We sit by and watch the Barbarian. We tolerate him. In the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence. His comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us. We laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there is no smile.”

Hilaire Belloc, This and That and The Other (New York, 1912), page 282.

#12 Comment By Gromaticus On April 15, 2018 @ 7:44 am

When your national founding myth is based on rationalizing the overthrow of a rightful monarch by claiming that it is some sort of “tyranny”, then F*** the Law becomes one of the nucleotides of your national DNA.

#13 Comment By RealAlan On April 15, 2018 @ 8:51 am

1. The first thing that occurred to me is how much India would like to have this kind of surveillance stuff in Kashmir. (I have a friend who visited there as part of a kind of diplomatic investigation.) Would China sell it to them? Looking things up, no, becuz China is an ally of Pakistan — but China, as part of its attempt to become the dominant Asian power, is trying stuff like offering to mediate in Kashmir, asserting that Kashmir is a problem left behind by Western Imperialism that Asia can solve, etc.

But what a boon for China if it could sell/give this stuff to would-be totalitarians everywhere and increase their influence.

There is no reason, other than the will of the people, why this technology cannot be used in the US. Notice how…the economic liberty of the people depends on whether or not their government-issued ID cards indicate that they are “safe” or not.

I would think that the private sector would get this part of it going before the government would dare. Look at the way that Paypal, Amazon, etc. cut off sites like V-Dare, apparently at the instigation of the $PLC. You start with a “good citizenship” payment card which donates an amount equal to 2% of your purchase to approved charities. Maybe a purchase allows you a charitable deduction for that amount, on the theory that the money actually comes from you. Participation is voluntary of course, but there are various perks. Eventually more and more places prefer this card, then start accepting only it for payment. Then known hatespeakers are denied access to this card, then badthinkers generally. If ordinary, rather moderate political groups can be successfully declared to be hate groups as the $PLC has done, why not give this a try?

#14 Comment By John On April 15, 2018 @ 8:57 am

The legal profession has been widely corrupted already. It is institutionalized even in the Supreme Court: 5 to 4. Presidents nominate judges guided by left or right ideological bias. Trouble is, the lefty judges have been finding in the penumbra of the Constitution all manner of rights and making them laws without even consulting the great unwashed.
What we have today is an ideologically soiled document. The practice is toxic, at this point un-reformable and ultimately will be our undoing.

#15 Comment By Irenist On April 15, 2018 @ 9:03 am

On the bright side, CUNY Law (153 median LSAT, 2-in-10 bar exam failure rate) grads aren’t going to be adjudicating First Amendment cases as Supreme Court justices anytime soon. And the school has been a noted hothouse of SJW extremism for a while now:
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#16 Comment By Michelle On April 15, 2018 @ 9:07 am

Congress has passed and reauthorized the Patriot Act with little dissent, giving the government broad powers to surveil American citizens in the name of national security. Our current Attorney General has decided that the Fourth Amendment is irrelevant in the pursuit of the War on Drugs. It’s not just the SJW left that has authoritarian tendencies. I’m pretty sure that Trump would jump at the chance to enhance the surveillance powers of his administration if it would cement his power and enable him to further enrich himself. And his supporters would cheer him on because he’d be keeping America safe and sticking it to liberals.

#17 Comment By KyleW On April 15, 2018 @ 9:38 am

At least Richard Roper had the good taste to be more articulate than “f*** the law.”

#18 Comment By John Farrier On April 15, 2018 @ 10:02 am

“It’s a very, very old principle that the executive has latitude in enforcing the law. If you have ever gotten off with a warning rather than a ticket from a cop for speeding, a burned out taillight etc, you have been the beneficiary of that sort of latitude.”

There’s a world of difference between selectively enforcing a law because an official thinks that an individual case warrants it and deciding not to enforce a law because the official doesn’t like the law.

#19 Comment By Kansan On April 15, 2018 @ 10:30 am

Seems like a good reason to support the ACLU. I know it’s long been the bugbear of conservatives, and I haven’t followed its activity too much within the last year or two, but I know its general philosophy has been to defend acts that deprive unsympathetic actors of their civil liberties, because if these actors are deprived, there will be a legal precedent for depriving more broadly.

#20 Comment By Jon On April 15, 2018 @ 11:36 am

Having surveillance is not necessarily a bad thing as it reduces the encounter between law enforcement and the public. Such surveillance by reducing contact minimize incidences of overreaction where suspects are beaten or killed without much of any pretext. Here, I am referring mainly to surveillance cameras. Rather than being stopped for speeding or some other moving violation, the motorist is ticketed via the U.S. mail. Of course a good many of us see the growing ubiquitous presence of cameras as intrusive and potentially may violate our civil rights. But on the other hand encounters with law enforcement . . . (please connect the dots).

#21 Comment By Jon On April 15, 2018 @ 11:38 am

“the growing ubiquitous presence of cameras” should read growing and therefore becoming ubiquitous presence of cameras.

#22 Comment By The Other Eric On April 15, 2018 @ 11:39 am

My house was broken into. The police came and took notes, but there weren’t any fingerprints and so there was little else they could do. But imagine if they could look up on a database who was in the area. This technology is not going to come in through the government. It will come in through Facebook coordinating with some neighborhood watch programs and a dot com donating street cameras.

#23 Comment By Eliza On April 15, 2018 @ 11:40 am

The Hollow Crown tetralogy of Shakespeare begins with Richard the Second and ends with Henry V, and it tracks the implications of precisely what Gromaticus describes. In Richard II, the King is overthrown for sheer bloody incompetence in multiple areas. Shakespeare makes him, arguably, a pitiable character. He’s not cruel or vicious, like Richard III. But he’s indecisive, besotted with his own glory, and prone to arbitrary judgements on account of his belief in his own Divine right as king. He’s a terrible leader and a bad king, and from that perspective Henry is well justified in rising up and taking the throne.

Henry in turn is a good king and could be a great one. But his entire rule is hampered by the fact that he has seized the throne by force of arms, to abuse Tacitus, let out the secret that a king can be made by something other than birth. The consequence is the War of the Roses.

Gromaticus is correct. Our founding myth as a nation is that leaders can be overthrown and that laws can be wholly rewritten. Yes, the founding fathers had elaborate and well articulated philosophical grounding for this. But I’m also fairly certain that “f the law” was in some form shouted as tea was tossed overboard to the tune of some millions of dollars of damage. I’m also completely certain that it was a sentiment conveyed by the people involved in the Buddy standoff on the Northwest.

Terrifying revolutionaries exist on both sides. I think to point to the ‘SJW’ crowd as particularly wanting to see this degree of surveillance state advanced is both naive of the threats from the right as it is ignorant of the platform actually advanced from the left. (Criticism of the surveillance and security state is a heavy plank there.)

But more than that, you’re ignoring that a) our surveillance state is actually well underway and it’s one that you yourself have supported multiple times. Because prior to your recent preoccupation with gender your preoccupation was with Islamic terrorists, and this preoccupation led you to overlook how dangerous the state was becoming an response and b) the surveillance state doesn’t come from revolutionaries.

The excessively intrusive surveillance state doesn’t come from the wings. That’s what makes it so dang dangerous. It comes from the maintenance of the status quo and the preservation of powerful and monied interests.

Look away from the boogie man in the corner, Rod. Look behind the curtain instead. It’s the same interests pulling all the levers. And I don’t think anything so banal as gender issues or social justice concern them at all. Not as long as there is money to be made and power to be had.

#24 Comment By charles cosimano On April 15, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

Us Cosimanian Orthodox dealt with this issue years ago and I did a video about it.

However, rather than make you look at my face ( a fate I would not wish on my in-laws which is why I charitably avoid them) let me tell you a little, true, story and Rod, hang onto your beard.

One day I was merrily typing an extraordinarily witty response to something on this blog when for no reason, the light on my webcam turned on, indicating it was operating. This was too good to resist, so I finished what I was writing, sent it and then put on one of my helmets and picked up little gadget called a hand beamer which has an infra-red LED as part of the broadcast system, hence the name.

Ok, now you can imagine that I really had the interest of whomever was at the other end and no doubt he was watching intently as I pointed the beamer at the webcam, pushed the button and saw the light emerge, pointed right at his face.

I relaxed in my chair, and as the light stayed on, held the beamer on target for a good five minutes. Then I released the trigger button, set down the beamer and looking squarely at the webcam, which was still on, said, “I suggest you put your affairs in order, you will be dead within the month.” That said, I laughed and yanked the cord of the webcam ending any possible connection.

Now, of course, it could have been a minor glitch in the old puter in which case obviously nothing was going to come of it but it was still fun anyway or someone was really on the the other end, in which it would be a case of death by suggestion, do do that voo doo. And if that were the case the same thing would happen to anyone looking at a recording of it. Even if you do not believe in psionics as having any power in itself, you cannot deny the power of suggestion.

We have ways of dealing with this.

#25 Comment By Peter On April 15, 2018 @ 12:48 pm

Facebook and Google have proved what we knew all along: Discrimination is NOT incompatible with making money, and in any case even capitalists have purposes other than making money. The issues that matter most are always the ones politicians refuse to engage (in a sincere way.) If I thought they were tracking me just to sell me toasters I would have no qualms. Nationalizing the internet now seems a good idea. At least the government can be held to neutrality by the constitution.

#26 Comment By Mark VA On April 15, 2018 @ 1:14 pm

One of the less outwardly dramatic but insidious uses of a “subject score” in a totalitarian state, is to control access to higher education;

No formal denial need be articulated to the individual, one is simply blacklisted on an internal state list (for example, “Not to be admitted to higher education” or “Can be admitted only in the following faculties” etc). An internal justification may be that the person is “unable to evolve out of a pre-scientific mindset”, or “talks to non-existent entities”, or “passes superstitions to his/her children” etc, (i.e. the person believes in God, prays, and takes his/her children to Catechism);

For any Polish speakers: if you haven’t read it already, may I recommend the book “Teczki Wojtyły” (Wojtyla’s Files), redacted by Cyprian Wilanowski. The book is a chronological collection of 236 internal memos, reports, psychological profiles, strategies for combating religion, methods of terror, compromisation techniques, etc. of the Polish Communist Party (PZPR). These documents pertain to Karol Wojtyła and those in his immediate milieu, prior to his election to the papacy. Obviously, none of this was ever meant to see daylight under totalitarian conditions;

The point is: the mechanics of a totalitarian state, simple and sophisticated, need not be a mystery. History of the 20th century removed that veil:

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#27 Comment By JonF On April 15, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

Re: When your national founding myth is based on rationalizing the overthrow of a rightful monarch by claiming that it is some sort of “tyranny”

How many nations (those of significant age) do not have that sort of thing in their history? Heck, even the Roman Republic got its start by kicking out King Tarquin.

#28 Comment By JonF On April 15, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

Re: There’s a world of difference between selectively enforcing a law because an official thinks that an individual case warrants it and deciding not to enforce a law because the official doesn’t like the law.

Well, yes– but it’s not as if immigration law was not enforced under Obama. Heck, he racked up more deportations than George W. Bush did.
Meanwhile back at the height of the housing crash, the Cook County Sheriff refused to serve any eviction papers since it developed that in too many cases the occupants had not received a prior notice of possible eviction and throwing people out in the street who had no chance to argue their case or even prepare for it (though legal at the time) proved so traumatic not only to the victims but to the law enforcement personnel that the Sheriff called a halt and demanded the courts and lien holders get their act together. What do you think of his action?

#29 Comment By Haigha On April 15, 2018 @ 2:17 pm

“F*** the law” has been the predominant attitude among lawyers, law professors, and judges for at least 80 years. Most of them just have the good sense to pretend that the law really is what they want to make it.

#30 Comment By Marie On April 15, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

Thanks, Michelle, for mentioning the patriot act

#31 Comment By Daniel (not Larrison) On April 15, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

Gromaticus wrote:

When your national founding myth is based on rationalizing the overthrow of a rightful monarch by claiming that it is some sort of “tyranny”, then F*** the Law becomes one of the nucleotides of your national DNA.

No.

The Founders were pretty clear on why they opposed George III: because he failed to follow the law.

Britain had at that point a long-established principal that Englishmen had certain rights that no monarch had a right to abrogate or limit. English society did not, at that point, tolerate the Continental idea of the monarch being an absolute ruler.

It was because of their respect of ***the law*** and not a man that led them to their actions.

#32 Comment By Daniel (not Larrison) On April 15, 2018 @ 3:22 pm

…I would also add that you certainly might find fault with the Founder’s reasoning–like maybe they should have tried more peaceful reconciliation, that they were refusing to pay taxes that helped defend them in the French and Indian War, that they were inconsistent in not applying their same standards to slaves and Native populations–but nevertheless, they felt that their Revolution was according to legal principles and not mere dissatisfaction.

YMMV; but I see a world of difference between an emotive “F– the law” and the carefully constructed arguments of the Founders…more than simply one being more educated than the other.

#33 Comment By Nate J On April 15, 2018 @ 3:39 pm

So, we have a crony corporate oligarchy, whose only interest is in ramping up the globalism and materialism in order to reduce us all to cheap labor and consumers of increasingly cheap junk, while keeping us preoccupied enough with filth and drugs (of both the legal and illegal variety) not to rebel against our increasingly depressing and soulless culture. The corporate oligarchy has now decided that moving towards overt progressivism will make it easier to sell things.

Then we have the deep state, who are entrusted to keep out the seditious elements (who could very well be those who oppose this new progressive order) and ensure the money keeps flowing from the public treasury back to those same corporate oligarchs in the form of billion dollar war machines. They basically have all the tools at their disposal to shred the entire constitution atva moment’s notice.

Which brings us to the entrenched political class, a group of cowardly, intellectually stunted puppets of both of the above. The average representative has no great love, or thorough understanding, of (for example) the 4th Amendment or civil liberties. Even the basic, foundational principles that underpin this constitutional republic do not seem to have broad, non-partisan support. Everything is up for grabs. Certainly, very few of the political class have reached their rank by giving beautiful, eloquent speeches on the importance of civil liberties or freedom of conscience or even the “self-evident truths” that underpin all rights. Nobody wins office because they, for instance, campaign vigorously against wars being waged without Congressional approval (the last such formal declaration of war was in 1941, for God’s sake). Nobody cares about that stuff. Too “Inside Baseball”.

So we will get what we deserve: a Corporate-Deep State-Political Class Triumvirate, with each leg of that stool supporting the other. I completely agree that the surveillance tools in use to day will be put to evil use against us one day. If you believe Edward Snowden, they already have been. And how could they not? Every single thing in American society is pointed towards the preservation of the Triumvirate. How could one expect these technologies to exist and that they *wouldn’t* be used against the citizenry? You pretty much have to go back to the 19th century to find evidence of vigorous public debates (debates that actually had a chance to truly shape public policy, and not just the largely irrelevant, academic debates you might see here and there today) about the nature of state power and its abuses.

I don’t think SJW’s are solely at fault here; I think they are just the most useful idiots of this day and age. The Triumvirate has just happened to have found their pet causes to be very useful for the general grinding down of any cultural resistance. I mean, society is now completely open to the idea that “You know, maybe free speech isn’t so good after all.” That’s remarkable. The Corporate-Deep State-Political Class three headed hydra could never have dreamed about a more useful bunch of idiots to guarantee their total control into the foreseeable future.

#34 Comment By JohnE_o On April 15, 2018 @ 3:44 pm

CUNY law students and other Sjw types represent the beginnings of a very real American Totalitarian movement. Just wait until they take control of the power centers like the police and military.

Have you ever spent an extended period of time in the bowels of the police or military?

I can just barely imagine the cops I work with being enforcers for a right-wing totalitarian state, but a left-wing SJW one?

No.

#35 Comment By Rob G On April 15, 2018 @ 4:13 pm

If you accept that the technocratic right and the cultural left are joined at the hip there’s no need for all the whataboutism on display here in the comments.

Liberalism is totalizing, thus ultimately totalitarian, irrespective of whether it’s the port or starboard variety. An enforced “tolerance” only works if its discontents are marginalized, or silenced in some other way.

#36 Comment By Robert E. On April 15, 2018 @ 4:24 pm

This is a bizarre juxtaposition in today’s post. Here are people who are angry at someone during a speech about immigration law, presumably because they are riled up about all the deportations, and Rod is making it seem like they’d be supporters of the surveillance state?

He really thinks they’d want to implement policies like universal ID and facial recognition cameras that would make the job of ICE as easy as coming to work and turning on the computer?

That’s not where support for the surveillance state comes from among liberals. It comes from the Democratic Establishment, who is all too happy to compete with the Republicans at being “tough” on terrorism.

#37 Comment By Criminal D Lawyer On April 15, 2018 @ 6:05 pm

The Left doesn’t control the cameras in the US. The Right does, mainly law enforcement. A Black Lives Matter activist, a Hispanic pro-immigration activist, or any Muslim American has a much higher chance of being subject to this stuff than a conservative Christian, especially a white conservative Christian.

#38 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 15, 2018 @ 6:05 pm

This reminds me once again of the state department rep being grilled by a senate committee in the early 1960s about whether that government we were supporting in Saigon was really so democratic as our leaders were claiming. His reply was “Senator, I know Americans would never put up with having to carry photo ID, but its different over there.”

It is true, incidentally, that for centuries French citizens or subjects have had to carry some form of ID to prove who they were and their right to be where they were and do whatever they were doing. And Vietnam got a good deal of its administrative practices from the French colonial administration.

People concerned with these trends might want to read “Red Mars” — the second in a trilogy envisioning a detailed, high tech plan for colonizing the 4th planet, which involves ways an underground used technology to survive within a similar sort of surveillance state. The series is one of the few really good science fiction books written since Asimov, Clark and Heinlein faded away.

When your national founding myth is based on rationalizing the overthrow of a rightful monarch by claiming that it is some sort of “tyranny”, then F*** the Law becomes one of the nucleotides of your national DNA.

Gromaticus obviously hasn’t studied much history, he just rattles off vague assumptions that he heard in a bar. I suggest he try Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom. Some of the later chapters are strained and politically self-serving, but the research that underlies the first half or more is quite insightful. Ina nutshell, the colonies rebelled against gross violation of long-established law by a corrupt administration headed by a foreign prince who didn’t understand much about the law at all.

There’s a world of difference between selectively enforcing a law because an official thinks that an individual case warrants it and deciding not to enforce a law because the official doesn’t like the law.

There is, but as a practical matter, it is much easier for the law to prevent someone doing a thing, than it is to make them do it.

I would also note that President Obama was more vigorous than previous administrations at enforcement of immigration law. DACA was very much in the nature of letting someone off on a speeding ticket, because they weren’t really a threat to anyone, writ large.

CUNY law students and other Sjw types represent the beginnings of a very real American Totalitarian movement. Just wait until they take control of the power centers like the police and military.

They aren’t enlisting in the military or applying for jobs as police. They will be very surprised if it is ever brought to their attention that all the guns are held by people with very different points of view, who are equally willing to “f*** the law” when it suits them.

#39 Comment By Geoff On April 15, 2018 @ 11:47 pm

In my early Christian days I bought into the futuristic interpretations of Revelation. And then I thought they weren’t that great and went with more nuanced historical views. And now I read these types of articles and think, “maybe those futuristic interpretations weren’t so crazy after all.”

#40 Comment By Daniel (not Larrison) On April 16, 2018 @ 7:13 am

A couple of posters here have repeated the claim that Obama deported “more than anyone else”. That ‘fact’ is not entirely accurate.

As with many Government statistics, the definition of “deportation” periodically changes. Certain events that were formerly not counted as deportations were counted as deportations under Obama, skewing the numbers.

See for details: [7]

#41 Comment By Ben H On April 16, 2018 @ 9:20 am

““F*** the law” has been the predominant attitude among lawyers, law professors, and judges for at least 80 years. Most of them just have the good sense to pretend that the law really is what they want to make it.”

Exactly. At least the SJWs are dumb enough to tell us the truth about what they intend.

#42 Comment By JB On April 16, 2018 @ 9:36 am

The show Person of Interest explored these themes in great and creepy detail over five seasons. It is well worth a watch. What is interesting about the show is that it started out ahead of the technology curve, as a kind of futuristic piece, but quickly was overtaken by the real world– all in the space of one season or two.

#43 Comment By Ben H On April 16, 2018 @ 10:14 am

“There is no reason, other than the will of the people, why this technology cannot be used in the US.”

Using Silicon Valley business practices as an precedent they certainly can start using this kind of technology whenever they want to. Then when they get found out it’s “whoopsy-daisy”, the billionnaires promise to crackdown on themselves and then it’s back to normal when everyone has forgotten.

Or, we have people demand this technology! The mechanism is anarcho-tyranny: you have a breakdown of law and order (caused by official negligence and/or incitement), and because of the breakdown people demand more oppressive measures to bring back order. (good example of this was the Florida shooting: cops to nothing to stop the shooter kid before or during the shooting followed by a well funded campaign to crack down on everyone’s gun rights with new oppressive laws).

#44 Comment By grumpy realist On April 16, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

actually, if you read the legal blogs, the main reaction I’ve seen about the SUNY SJW stuff is “WTF?! Haven’t these guys heard of the First Amendment?!”

They’re on the side of the professor, in other words.

Are we even sure that these protesters in fact law students? It seems to me that if so they must have all failed their classes in Constitutional Law to pull out the behavior they did.

#45 Comment By JonF On April 16, 2018 @ 2:06 pm

Re: As with many Government statistics, the definition of “deportation” periodically changes. Certain events that were formerly not counted as deportations were counted as deportations under Obama, skewing the numbers.

Maybe, but it’s hardly evidence that Obama did not enforce immigration law tr all, as the original poster claimed.
And be careful with claims that Obama only deported people at the “border”. In immigration law that word does not mean what it commonly does. Rather the “border” is any place in the US within 200 miles of a land or sea border: entire states and a number of major cities are within the “border” in that sense.

#46 Comment By Ray Woodcock On April 16, 2018 @ 4:33 pm

It has already happened here, relatively speaking. America post-9/11 is very different from the America of previous generations. Another comparable shock to the sense of internal security could drive many more changes.

Islam is the only religion likely to be directly implicated in any such shock. Given the growing and understandable public impatience with abuses performed in the name of religion, though, it is conceivable that laws and/or attitudes could eventually turn against allowing the foolishness of any religion to influence governmental policy.

Even if that did happen, though, it would still be a far cry from the situation depicted in the video. We don’t have a restive alien religion-based culture dominating a geographical region. Thus, unlike China, we don’t have an incentive to tolerate special harshness in any such place. To the contrary, Americans take pride in their freedoms, including religious freedom. We, believers and nonbelievers alike, have always attacked and ridiculed people who don’t see things as we do, but governmental efforts to suppress individuals’ (especially Christians’) private worship or belief appear very unlikely in this country within the foreseeable future.

Promoting an us-against-them mentality definitely could foster esprit de corps within a religious sect. You know, the secret handshake and so forth. And yet, sometimes, the day comes when such shenanigans no longer seem so silly. These are unusual times. Humanity has no experience with this sort of technology. It’s hard to say where it will lead.

For those who fear such developments, possibly the best strategy would be to do the hard work well in advance — to start forming a culture and a mentality that would plant moles and work out secret words, symbols, and gestures — but to avoid crying wolf. It would seem wiser to keep all that on a back burner until events encourage people en masse to see the need for an underground haven and/or resistance.

The problem there is that the underground’s fears could be self-fulfilling. That is, the discovery that a cult has wriggled its tentacles into sensitive government agencies could stimulate the concern that perhaps America has been naive in trusting its religions not to put their beliefs before their country. But as long as the cult in question differs rather visibly from most believers in most religions, any crackdown would probably be directed at that subgroup.

#47 Comment By BlueTickCoonHound On April 16, 2018 @ 7:47 pm

I’m no authority (tho perhaps I should “make” myself one for profit!) but I’ve lived nearly ten years in China, being invited to leave within 30 days just over 3 years ago. For the record I was 100% wrong, I normally was there on a Z visa as a “foreign expert” but my current employers had a new, young and inexperienced person, in charge of all my paperwork, and she continued to insist on delays and so I was, essentially, busted working unauthorized on a 90 day tourist visa. (It escalated from a scam I fell for and foolishly reported to police)… All that to say that, from what I know of believers in China, and I mostly had contact with the so-called “underground” Christians….they will, not eagerly or even what they would consider courageously, die for their faith. I must have met, personally, more than 200 individual Christians starving for leadership (obviously no seminaries for generations now) but very willing to die, and to die badly, for their faith. This both frightens and encourages me. Do pray for them knowing they are as real as the folks at your coffee shop or church…they simply wish to worship God freely, not in the State-sanctioned churches, and they are clear that this is what matters most. I dearly miss “my” China.