Is New Zealand a police state?
“Couldn’t the Germans see what they were doing? Couldn’t they understand that, by giving a free hand to ‘authority’, they were unleashing a monster?” people ask, when reflecting on the rise of Hitler in the early 1930s. The answer, I think, is that they couldn’t — just as we can’t see the possible consequences of our surrender to officialdom. And if we do see some of the implications of our action (or, rather, inaction), we think that the greater safety/security that we now supposedly enjoy is reasonable compensation for the loss of hard-won rights. Besides, we patriotic, law-abiding citizens won’t be affected by any increase in police powers. As long as we keep our heads down, and remain apolitical, we will have nothing to fear.
My letter, which was published on March 27, 2012, could have made several other points. One is that a legal requirement that a person answer police questions opens the door to “robust/enhanced interrogation”, which in turn opens the door to torture. Another is that the United Nations Committee Against Torture has determined that indefinite detention is, in itself, a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.
It’s ironic that we always see the new “Hitler” arising in places like Egypt, Iraq and Iran — countries with little or no ability or intention to harm us — and never in our own society. Yet the catastrophic erosion of our rights since 9/11 — and, by all accounts, the construction of internment facilities for dissidents in the United States* — have occurred under our purportedly democratic regimes. Clearly, the threats to our freedom come from within, not from without.
NOTE 1: New Zealand’s Search and Surveillance Bill (which is now law) appears to be similar, in some respects, to HR347 in the United States. See the article on HR347 by Eric Peters, which I have republished (with one sentence highlighted) here. Readers of this article should scroll down the page and also read the article on HR347 by Gabe Rottman of the ACLU. Finally, there are two articles on New Zealand’s Search and Surveillance Bill here.
NOTE 2: When considering HR347, we should keep in mind the provisions for indefinite detention in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. See the Wikipedia entry on this act here.
* In 2006, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root was reportedly awarded a $385-million contract by Homeland Security to construct detention and processing facilities for use in the event of a national emergency.
Actually, what I wrote was: “. . . the kind of society that the veterans presumably fought to protect.” I wrote “presumably” because, as a matter of fact, most of those who rushed to the recruiting stations in 1914 were not motivated by a burning desire to protect freedom and democracy. They just didn’t want to miss what they thought would be a brief, glorious adventure. They didn’t realize they were being cynically fed into the most frightful meat grinder the world has seen.
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