Instead, I caught up on my reading at “Parking Network [PN]… the first online information source for the parking industry.” You know you’re languishing in a totalitarian nightmare when such a publication blares, “Department of Homeland Security [DHS] and Transportation Security Administration Offer Free Anti-Terrorism Training.” Parking. Even empty cars at rest can’t escape the police-state’s dragnet.
“Terrorists often use parked cars or trucks to carry, conceal or serve as bombs,” PN’s article breathlessly tells us, “and for that reason, local government officials are … utiliz[ing] parking professionals as foot soldiers in the war on terrorism.”
Astounding, the naïveté. After almost a decade of the War on the Consti — sorry, Terror, PN dutifully reports yet another assault on the Fourth Amendment, common decency and civilization, yet another attempt to turn us into snitches ratting out our friends and family, as mere recruiting of “foot soldiers” to secure the homeland. With dupes this obliging, it’s no wonder the Feds rack up heartbreaking casualties among our rights and liberties.
And so PN touts a diabolical and Stalinesque program called “First Observer.” Its “mission is to administer an anti-terrorism and security awareness program for highway professionals” -— any of you amateurs feeling snubbed yet? — “... A key component of the program is to recruit volunteers from the Trucking, Motor Coach Carriers and School Bus industries” — yep, that sweet but talkative retiree driving your kids to school could be an informant — “to act as our ‘First Observer’ in reporting suspicious activities of either a criminal or potential terroristic nature to authorities.”
Kinda sorry you were so brusque when Mr. Retiree bumped into you at the supermarket Monday evening, aren’t you? The kids were home alone and fighting, your stomach was growling, you still had the laundry to do after cooking dinner — but what if he punishes your rudeness by deciding it’s “suspicious”?
Experts in security testify that deputizing citizens as finks yields nothing more than defamation and revenge: they report people they dislike rather than actual threats —perhaps because they may not recognize the latter. It’s easy to consider the grump next door and his barking dog terrorists (after all, they’re terrorizing you, aren’t they?); it’s harder to imagine your “smart, personable” colleague who is “suburbia personified” and grows amazing hydrangeas as a Russian operative — which is why professionals, and not citizens-turned-snitches, broke that spy-ring.
You might think our overwhelming failures to spot “suspicious activities of either a criminal or potential terroristic nature” would exempt us from such infamous duty. Yet Our Rulers continue suborning us: New York City has long urged commuters to “say something”; now Big Sis pesters shoppers with this wickedness; First Observer indoctrinates drivers. Why? Because convincing us to squeal is most of the battle; once the State conquers our natural revulsion against the tactic, it becomes a matter of listing what we’re to relay — especially criticism of government. One First Observer “called after a training we had … [to report] another driver, who happens to be from another country and has made several negative comments about America and the war we are in…”
That’s one reason despots love snitches. Another is their apparent ubiquity: when any citizen could be an informant, it often seems everyone is. The State triumphs as its victims eye each other in a war of all against all — not, as Hobbes theorized, from a lack of government but because of it. Dissidents fall silent, first from fear and then on the assumption that they alone oppose such evil.
During WWII, the French Resistance cleverly and simply defied the surveillance-state the Nazis and Vichy’s collaborators imposed on them with the letter “V.” As Matthew Cobb explains in The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis, “Resistance V’s appeared all over the country … The V campaign meant ordinary people could feel they were doing something, however symbolic, to protest against the Occupation.” One eyewitness wrote, “The British radio has called on people to write V for victory everywhere, and they are all over the place, even on shop fronts. They are also written on blackboards, on tables — everywhere. Even better, there’s a new badge: a V made with two crossed pins and worn on the lapel. Yvette and I counted seventy-five in five minutes! … On the Rue d’Astorg, I scribbled a V on a German car. I heard the sound of boots behind me, and moved off quickly.”
Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones of prisonplanet.com have adapted this idea for DHS’s Amerika. They offer “New V for Victory Posters,” which they invite us to download and print. Then “use … [them] to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves. Use them on banner hangs or as stand alone flyers, post them on message boards or any places where announcements are made in your local community. Anywhere that’s legal and lawful, we want to see the V for victory proudly displayed as a symbolic message of resistance and defiance.”
Perhaps Messrs. Watson and Jones will accept a friendly amendment to their brilliance. After hanging their posters, what if we also added the hand-signal that spreads the first two fingers in a “V for Victory”?
I’ve never liked that symbol. I always associate it with the Marxist movements of the 1960’s — the hippies who agitated against morality, hygiene, courtesy, and whatever else differentiates us from beasts. Not even their protests against the war could rehabilitate the sign since they objected for the wrong reason (not to America’s unconstitutional imperialism but to its threatening their fellow-travellers in Vietnam’s regime).
Then came “V for Vendetta,” and OK, rehabilitation began. Now that we have Prisonplanet’s call to resistance, I may begin flashing the V myself! Let’s wave it any place the DHS has invaded, wherever its goons are groping us or searching our belongings — airports, stadiums, busses, ferries. Give it to the TV any time its talking heads announce another “initiative from the DHS to protect the homeland.” Brandish it in Wal-Mart when Big Sis bloviates. Show it to truckers and other “professional drivers” on the highway.
You may be surprised how many wave back!