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The Illusion of Security


The Illusion of Security

Robert C. Koehler

“Please be gentle.”

The story is too easy to believe. At the Memphis airport, a confused, nervous teenager sets off the metal detector — possibly because she has sequins on her shirt — and is told she needs to come to a “sterile area.” Armed guards show up to escort her. She’s terrified.


America is already living under Fascism, and electing Donald Trump or HRC won't change that.


It is past time to begin the War on Error.


this article happens to coincide with two shocking videos of police shootings of black men; one taking place in baton rouge louisiana and the other in st. paul minesota. alton stering had taken the advice so many "blame the victim" whites give to blacks, "get a job!" or "start your own business!" alton sold cds in front of a convenience store with the permission of the store's owner. he worked in a rough neighborhood receiving cash for sales of his inventory. louisiana is an open carry state and alton decided that he should carry protection. police perceive a black man with a gun as a threat and therefore "fear for their lives" which justifies in their mind the right to kill.

in minnesota, philando castile, was stopped for a broken tail light and was shot while attempting to retrieve his driver's license. we_the_people can no longer trust the state to self-correct. the officer denies that he asked philando for his i.d. instead claiming he said, "put your hand up!" for a broken tail light?!?

He had — you told him to get his ID, sir, his drivers license. Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.--Lavish Reynolds, girlfriend of the deceased

it is up to each of us to speak up to a bully, to speak out loud and clear! when we hear a racist, sexist or homophobic comment. when we are silent, just to keep the peace, our silence is interpreted as tacit agreement. here are some great suggestion for us from marc lamont hill:

So, we need to redress this issue of white supremacy. We also need to deal with this question of policing. We need to ask what role do we really want police officers to have? Do we want them to be an occupying force in our community, or do we want them to have a different role? The whole idea of broken windows policing, the idea of getting an Eric Garner off the corner for selling loosey cigarettes, the idea of chasing down a guy for selling CDs when the store owners don’t care, that, itself is part of a particular understanding of understanding of policing that we ultimately have to change.


"What we have instead is a bureaucratic illusion of safety."
indeed, robert! it's all so much theatre, isn't it? it's a double edged sword with dual purposes. one, to keep the fear rhetoric going to keep the populace fearful and on the other side to provide a sense that the state remains vigilant for your protection. "big brother love you"?

the ever increasing police presence, the tsa, security guards and all that jazz life in the u.s.a. begins to look a whole like a protection racket, doesn't it? first the state threatens us with all manner of innuendo and vague threats from a boogie man and then shakes us down for more tax dollars in the guise of security. there's a big difference between taking reasonable safety precautions and all out paranoia! in fact panicky paranoia, itself, can increase danger. studies have shown that the person who walks with confidence, smiles and makes eye contact with the stranger on the street is less apt to become a victim of crime than the one who acts furtive and frightened. actually, i feel sure that the most frightened among us are the very ones setting up this massive security state. these may convince even themselves that the purpose is to protect the citizens, but it is we, the rabble, who scare the pee-waddins out of them.

i had forgotten about that zimbardo experiment. i'd sure like to believe that if i were a prison guard in that experiment i would not fall into the gang mentality and would still treat others as i would be treated. my mom had a saying that may apply here, "take me not to the test!"

barbara ransby suggests better crises intervention training, but i feel that first we need to assure that qualified, compassionate people are placed in security positions. perhaps, a group of psychologists could devise an extensive personalty exam which could identify biases, tendencies toward bully behavior and unresolved anger issues. consider the earlier tsa motto, “Dominate. Intimidate. Control,” which makes it clear that tsa agent, police and prison guards are hired because of their playground bully attitude. these types of personality disorders cannot be "trained" out of a person. for these hyper-masculine men and even some women, "please be gentle," actually translates into "please be weak and vulnerable."


Maybe cops are being beefed up with Steroids and/or Testosterone, or otherwise whipped up into an aggressive frenzy.

Let's compare these two statements:

"What we have instead is a bureaucratic illusion of safety. James Bovard, in an op-ed column last year in USA Today, called it “security theater” — a “routine that is far more effective at subjugating Americans than protecting them.”

I FULLY agree with the above statement. Unchecked AUTHORITY is setting up the metrics for potentially subjugating Americans.

But that is the OPPOSITE of the following 2 statements, since as usual, a universal WE is attributed to what specific persons in positions of AUTHORITY are engineering. It's VERY dangerous (not to mention dishonest) to conflate the two:

“I fear we’re reversing the evolutionary process. We’ve surrendered to simplistic, impulsive, fear-based ‘safety’ and we’re reaping the consequences, one broken soul at a time.”

"We’re reaping the consequences, indeed. Security is more than a matter of guns and enemies. As we militarize the illusion of security, more and more we become our own worst enemies."

The "WE" that is pushing militarism and violent police action is not the "WE" being done unto.

The slave is not the Plantation Owner.

The rape victim is not the rapist.

The citizen within an Inverted Totalitarian State is not the one behind the growing fascist behaviors!


Never mentioned by Mr. Koehler and treated like a Third Rail by academia, apart from the voice of Feminists is the role played by Patriarchy and religions based on appeasing an angry, jealous, war-favoring, father "god." These old belief systems are the root of this problem:

"Zimbardo is the researcher who conducted the famously horrifying Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971, in which a group of psychologically healthy male college students were assigned to play the role of prison guards, while another group of college kids were the pseudo-prisoners. Given such power, the guards quickly turned into a collective of sadists. The experiment had to be shut down early. Zimbardo called the phenomenon the Lucifer Effect. Ever since, he’s been sounding the warning that ordinary men and women, in a context of too much power (think, for instance, Abu Ghraib), can cross that line and turn into representatives of evil.

"And consider, as Bovard pointed out, that an early TSA motto was “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.”

I recently watched Zimbardo in a TED Talk and he spoke about this.

It's similar to the results from the Stanley Milgram experiments.

Before there was an understanding of genetics, one theory floated around in the scientific community was that of "Spontaneous Generation." Observers watched as microbes (and then insects) seemed to appear out of nowhere in a petri-dish.

Similarly, there's a psychological version of "Spontaneous Generation" that operates in many of the social sciences. The observers watch people's behavior without penetrating the core basics behind it.

Religion is a major driver and when it's religion that teaches dominance, and religion that is used as a pretext for wars of aggression or the expression of vengeance, and religion that sets up the armed camps defining "us" or "them"; then these beliefs become as embedded into the psychology of the brain as pathogens do within our biological tissues.

So few dare to push away the cornerstone... they'd rather just study the blocks!


Reading comprehension problem in addition to your defining tunnel-vision?


I watched these events on Amy Goodman's show, "Democracy Now" and it was absolutely mortifying. Then I see photos of Obama smiling... instead of GENUINELY speaking out against, or better yet, CORRECTING the problem of police violence.

A few days prior, Ms. Goodman had a guest on who'd written a book about police violence and I don't have the statistics handy; but essentially, I believe there were approximately 5000 instances of police killing citizens and of those, about 70 actually saw a day in court. And from that ridiculously limited pool, less than TEN faced criminal consequences.

That means that in the same way the military can hire a natural-born killer who lets loose against the enemy du jour ("American Sniper" style) and blends right in, the racist cop who just seeks a pretext to murder Black citizens is also given free reign.

It's beyond appalling.

And I think the reason nothing is being done to thwart this naked violence is that in the same way the TSA roughed up the poor girl under medical treatment (Robert Koehler's article today), citizens are being CONDITIONED to see violence on the part of Authority as normal.

This is truly the part where the U.S. comes more and more to gradually resemble the Fourth Reich. Soldiers--in the form of police and highway patrol, sheriff department, FBI, TSA--are virtually EVERYWHERE. And many ARE attacking citizens with impunity.

"First they came for..."

But they never stop there.

That's where the White Community ought to be realizing that what's being done unto Black citizens sets the precedent for ALL others.

And Trump is fine and dandy about all this. Hillary hides her consent. Obama smiles and talks about The Peaceful society... while undermining it on so many levels. (After all, what's done abroad DOES reverberate back home. So the constant campaign OF terror using drones to attack citizens of nations that have never done a thing to the U.S. is just more Mars-Rules expressions of Force intended to induce fear, terror, and trauma induced mind-control).


Very often, that line between good and bad doesn't really even exist.
Ben Franklin was all too correct when he said "Those who would trade in a few liberties for increased security deserve neither."
I have no doubt in my mind that this security theater and the smoke and mirrors that inspired it was all a contrivance specifically to further subjugate the population. Some people up in some tall buildings somewhere doesn't want the current social order, that benefits themselves so well at the cost of everyone else, to change.


Was that hard to understand?

Of course Fascism isn't evident everywhere in America. My point is that a President Trump or a President Clinton won't make America Fascist or not Fascist, fear and resentment will - and as they spread, so does Fascism.

I guess you weren't replying to me, just quoting, so nevermind.


A "lack of training" doesn't excuse a lack of humanity, but who engenders that sociopathy?

It is a conscience decision by those in power, designed to perpetuate their positions.

Accountability exists at all levels, but responsibility is reserved for the rules makers.

Until they are brought into the dock, there will be no true justice.


Well said...


"...citizens are being CONDITIONED to see violence on the part of Authority as normal."

I'm a "Midsomer Murders" fan, and have noticed in show after show that police don't really need warrants, if they don't feel like getting one, but can break into private homes with impunity.
Just one example of what could be conditioning.

Also, here is a point to ponder: how come televisions are so inexpensive?


I agree with every single word. The problem is Authority.


The other thing about this essay that is so poignant is the desperation and anxiety that can be sensed by Hannah and her mother. The violation of person. The unreasonableness. Being thrown to the ground and cuffed. Not gentle at all. Unless Hannah were about to toss a grenade, detonate a bomb, blow herself up, or was brandishing a weapon of some sort, I can't imagine why her pulling away from officers would end up with her on the floor. And this is why when I read about police brutality, and honestly, I don't have the stomach to watch it after Rodney King, I think that WE are all subject to the same treatment. Minorities and middle eastern people may be more scrutinized but this kind of assault and manhandling at the hands of immature officers who have absolutely no need to be carrying a gun for a living can happen to anyone because WE have become the enemy. You and I are the enemy. That is why they mistreat and kill. This is a very broad generalization. This is a conditioned mindset. This is part of the illusion.


Oh look! The illusion of security as implemented by an illusion of authority! How profitable is that and does it provide living wages to all employees?