Friday, March 13, 2009

The Protection Racket & The Cult of Security

     On the research channel this morning, Dr. Robert Gould of Physicians for Social Responsibility spoke about U.S. military activities that are endangering the world and incidentally sabotaging our economic welfare.
     We all know about the kind of protection racket run by organized crime, but too few notice that cops and soldiers are also susceptible to this kind of sabotage. Mind you, that's not their intent. But organized use of physical force, whether government-sanctioned or not, inevitably contaminates the goal of safety, security and protection from (other) dangerous people.
     Paradoxically, like yin and yang, any idea carried to its extreme will shape-shift into its opposite. Thus, our natural desire for safety induces us to steep in a slowly warming bath of more and more security measures, typically involving physical separation from the designated threat. Paradoxically, in a police station where you would think people would feel safe, there is always more bullet-proof glass than anywhere else.
     Women who have patriarchal expectations inflicted on them are more likely to sense this paradox, but that doesn't stop many women from feeling safer with 'bad boys' who promise to protect them physically, in return for various services such as traditional women's work.
     Bad, unobedient girls, feminists like Susan Griffin, Susan Faludi, and Ellen Goodman, have made the connection between the personal and the political, extending the traditional meaning of "protection racket" to refer to men who 'rescue' women by insisting on protecting them from dangerous strangers when it is actually the so-called protector who will turn on the women who reject his protection and deprive him of his excuse for self-righteous violence. 
      And most men don't notice that they are just as vulnerable to this bullshit until they themselves are arrested, like Scott Baugh, the sanctimonious Republican who complained about being "assaulted by police officers during the search" of his home pursuant to suspicion of improper campaign contributions, according to the Fresno Bee of December 25, 1995. (Not surprisingly, instead of calling on WEAVE or his lawyer, Baugh called on his political buddies who froze the indicting DA out of the Republican old boys club.)
     But as Eve Ensler vividly explained in her recent book, "Insecure At Last," the perfect security con that apologists of wars and prisons are trying to sell you simply doesn't exist. The cultists of security want you to accept the bubble inside the protection racket without complaining, and certainly without any public hearings. 
     Don't let them smother you to death. Freedom requires insecurity. 
     There will always be things to fear, so it's easiest to just learn to adapt to your fears. Let your rational mind attend to the fears, and devote your heart to discerning what's best for all.

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