A sign of intelligence, and pragmatism, in devising strategies to deal with a specific problem is observing how another person resolved a similar issue successfully and if possible following their approach to give the best chance of achieving comparable results. Americans who have paid attention to events unfolding in Egypt are appalled at the violence against protesters and they should be, but they should also take note that Republicans are taking a page out of the Egyptian military’s response to protestors albeit without the level of violence; yet. Americans, unlike Egyptians, enjoy constitutional protection against laws abridging their freedom of speech, or “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” but since Republicans do not acknowledge the validity of the Constitution as the law of the land, more Americans are being arrested and their freedom of speech and right to assemble are being abridged.
The recent events directed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that lead to the arrests of American citizens for protesting his assault on labor follow a ten year pattern that began with another Republican; George W. Bush. In 2004, anti-Bush protestors in West Virginia were arrested for wearing anti-Bush tee-shirts, and the practice continued in 2007 when police carried out arbitrary mass arrests in different parts of the New York corralling hundreds in orange plastic netting before handcuffing and loading them into jail buses. All told between 1,500 and 2,000 Americans were arrested by police to suppress the right of the people to assembly peaceably. In April when Bush’s library was dedicated in Texas, three protesters were arrested by police, and it follows a Bush White House manual detailing how to deal with Americans exercising their freedom of speech and right to assemble.
The White House manual gave Bush advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of “deterring protestors” from President Bush’s public appearances around the country. Among other things, any anti-Bush demonstrators should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations and if that does not work, they should be thrown out or arrested. Doubtless, Scott Walker procured a copy of the Bush manual to learn how to subvert Americans’ Constitutional rights and apparently he is following it carefully. The idea of arresting protesters, although unconstitutional and pathetic, is at least better than the tactics in Kentucky when a Rand Paul supporter stomped on a MoveOn volunteer’s head after throwing her to the ground.
During the Occupy movement’s protests around the country in 2011, law enforcement employed extraordinarily harsh measures to deny Americans their right to assemble peaceably that were repeated on the one-year anniversary of the movement when nearly 200 demonstrators were arrested and hauleded off to jail in September 2012. The arrests are particularly disturbing because like Scott Walker’s practice in Wisconsin, reporters and journalists were arrested and carted off to jail like common criminals for exercising their rights and it begs the question; how long before Walker gives the all-clear for law enforcement to begin using lethal force to clear out protesters. It is important to remember that the Egyptian military did not begin using violence to stop peaceful protesters, but when arrests and warnings failed to quell demonstrations they took the next logical step and began shooting. It is also important to remember that law enforcement officers around the country resorted to violence against occupy protesters when they failed to heed warnings that their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble was being revoked.
On Friday, a 31-year veteran police officer in Wisconsin alluded to why Scott Walker’s capitol police corps were arresting people who posed no threat to public safety and it is eerily similar to events in Egypt. According to the police officer, “by arresting people here they are being more beholden to Scott Walker than to the Constitution they swore to uphold” and it is a recurring theme with Republicans in Congress and apparently in Walker’s administration. If any American thinks events in Egypt could not possibly occur in America they are deluded beyond belief because the lead-up to law enforcement opening fire on American citizens exercising their constitutional rights began during the Bush Administration and will progress to their natural conclusion soon enough because Republicans will not tolerate public displays of dissent.
During the occupy movement’s protests, Republicans lined up to make public declarations that peaceful protesters were thugs, angry mobs, dividing America during a time of crisis, and stunningly, that protesting Wall Street and bankers was anti-American. Eric Cantor and Willard Romney were but a sampling of Republicans decrying American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights. Glenn Beck warned his listeners that occupy protesters would “come for you, drag you into the streets, and kill you” that served the purpose of fear-mongering and eliciting public approval for what would become police violence against peaceful protests.
The lesson for Americans is that Republicans demand abject obedience to their policies without comment, dissent, or protest and that Constitutional protections against laws and directives banning peaceful assemblies protesting Republicans or their policies are null and void. Remember, that prior to ousting deposed President Morsi and opening fire on peaceable protesters in Egypt, the military suspended their Constitution.
If Americans wonder how events in Egypt could ever occur in a freedom-loving nation like America once was, they can harken back to the Bush Administration and recall that it started slowly and progressed to Scott Walker arresting journalists, grandmothers, and children simply for singing. Bush disallowed protests within his eyesight at first, then progressed to arresting Americans wearing tee-shirts he did not like, and culminated with street arrests of people wearing Bush masks. Republicans continued the practice by calling peaceful protesters thugs, mobs, and un-American that incited law enforcement to make mass arrests and fire rubber bullets at peaceful protesters in Oakland California.
It is too bad Americans are ignorant of how Nazis in Germany started slowly and progressed to rounding up and arresting German citizens perceived as mobs and thugs. Republicans have been accused of following Nazi tactics in their drive toward fascism and it started in states with Republican governors and legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin breaking unions and disbanding local governments. The danger to Americans is that with no Constitutional guarantees that they can protest, dissent, or demonstrate against what can only be called naked fascism, it is only a matter of time before the appalling violence in Egypt is repeated on American soil and based on men like Scott Walker’s blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution, Wisconsin protestors should fear more than arrest for singing. Remember, Egyptians were massacred for sitting and occupying public spaces and they likely were guilty of singing as well.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.