Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Or Maybe It's Money.

Joanna Rothkopf of Salon quotes Jake Tapper as saying (video, below)

What is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in downtown America. These are armed police with semi-automatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now why they’re doing this, I don’t know. Because there is no threat going on here, none, that merits this. There is none. Absolutely, there have been looters. Absolutely over the last nine days there’s been violence, but there is nothing going on right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing. So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri, are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn’t make any sense.

Nothing "merits this," as Tapper observes, because "nobody's threatening anything. Nobody's doing anything. None of these stores that I can see are being looted. There's no violence." And that is "part of the reason" Ferguson, Missouri residents "are so upset."

But the deployment "doesn't make any sense?" Of course it does, and Jake Tapper ought to understand why it does.

The militarization of the police, prompted by the vastly increased firepower of narcotics dealers in some municipalities,  began as a tactic to fight the drug war.  But it is sustained by the threat of terrorism. And public acceptance of- nay, probably support for- this absurd state of affairs has been sustained by a  fear of "they're coming over here," as in the recent call for the President to "be honest with the threat we face. They are coming."   And that was not from Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Ted Nugent, but from a sitting U.S. Senator, one characterized by the mainstream media as part of the Repub Party's "moderate wing" (more accurately viewed as moderately extreme).

The paranoia was fueled by the recent statement by an ISIS spokesman (would be "spokesperson" were a woman allowed such a position in a radical Islamic organization) "We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”   If the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant were able to launch an attack in the USA anytime in the near future, it would be folly to announce it in advance.

The Levant is the eastern Mediterranean. Syria is Syria. Still, the threat added to the fear of average Americans and to the rationale for increased security domestically. It's not surprising we're seeing it elsewhere, with USA Today reporting

As part of Major League Baseball's security plan, metal detectors were added at some Yankee Stadium gates beginning Tuesday night, when New York hosted the Houston Astros. MLB has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate safety procedures, and all 30 big league parks will have metal detectors by opening day 2015.

The Yankees tried to prepare fans for the change, announcing last Friday they would start implementing the new system on this homestand. It will remain in place for the rest of the season.

Other stadiums have already put the metal detectors in place, too.

Fans will accept the added inconvenience.  They already are scared, and have been accustomed to having bags checked as they enter sports arenas and notwithstanding protests in Ferguson, false bravado of tea party supporters, and the occasional incumbent politician rejected at the polls, the American people are rather accepting of authority.

But maybe the enhanced security at Major League Baseball parks and stadia ultimately have little to do with security and other global issues.  The New York Daily News notes "As fans waited, security guards asked them to have their bags open, hats off and all items removed from their pockets to help speed up the process."

With all items removed from pockets, fans no longer will be able to smuggle in to arenas such dangerous contraband as peanuts, candy, or pretzels, which will result in increased sales by the food vendors and ever-more obscene profits for the owners of the sports franchises.

The Economy of Food at Sporting Events
Image compliments of Sports Management Degrees

So here we have another parallel to deployment, without threat, of police all decked out as if soldiers out gunning for the enemy on the field of foreign battle- but making "sense" of a sort.  This stuff was started because of the drug war but thrives because of the fear of terrorism, notwithstanding the absence of al-Qaeda from the streets of Ferguson.  Metal detectors are touted as a weapon against terrorism but, long after this threat will have been contained and even neutralized, the detectors will remain because profit is there.

(Main Street Liberal will be on hiatus for a few days.  Please return early next week for more scintillating analysis.  Or whatever this is.)

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