By Jimmy Franco Sr.
The present surge in the use of heavy weaponry and violence on the international front by the leaders of our government is beginning to penetrate all facets of our society. This increase in militarism and the use of aggressive tactics to resolve problems are now becoming the political norm in US foreign policy relations, responses to the surging anger of minority communities here at home, and the practice of spying and surveillance on the US public through the illegal collection of their personal information and activities by the NSA.
The continuing flow of heavy weaponry from the federal government to local law enforcement now includes armored vehicles, military assault rifles, tanks, tear gas and other lethal hardware. The possession of such an arsenal of deadly weapons will eventually be used against communities as this trend continues to transform local police departments from protect and serve civil servants into aggressive para-military forces.
The increasing use of heavily-armed police who launch war-like operations such as discriminatory gang injunctions, drug busts by SWAT teams who resemble soldiers and police responses to incidents armed with deadly firepower often result in over reaction and injuries to innocent people. In many cases, the use of these weapons and aggressive tactics further inflames the existing anger within ethnic communities which is what has occurred in Ferguson Missouri and other communities who are already suffering from a lack of decent social services and heavy-handed tactics and racial profiling by the police.
Militarization and armed confrontation cannot resolve our social problems
The US public is the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs and this profitable market continues to expand. Attempting to repress the suppliers of this growing demand through a billion-dollar ‘War on Drugs’ only creates more heavily armed gangs, rampant violence and overflowing prisons which have now become schools for crime.
The complex issue of immigration reform requires a logical political process and just resolution that is mutually acceptable to all concerned. The government’s policy of declaring a ‘war on immigration’ which resorts to tactics of mass deportations, a heavily-armed blockade of the border and a rapid increase in the armed forces and weaponry to man this 2000 mile frontier is economically and politically unsustainable. The political decision to utilize a military solution to resolve this problem rather than using common sense, economics and principled negotiations ultimately the result is failure.
Domestically, the ongoing ‘war on gangs’ ignores any concrete solutions to the underlying social problems that motivate these young people to choose and live this dangerous life style. The crusade of heavily-armed police being used against gangs, targets this growing problem by utilizing racial profiling to stop suspects, mass gang injunctions and organizing combative sweeps and raids into minority communities. These aggressive anti-gang sweeps utilize deadly surplus weapons left over from numerous US conflicts abroad and are patterned after war-time operations.
Another group that is increasingly being victimized by these combative police responses are the mentally ill and homeless. As the number of mentally-ill people within the country increases and the level of medical care provided to them declines, their behavior on the streets is increasingly being viewed as a criminal threat by police who are trained to respond to emotional outbursts and abnormal behavior by immediately shooting to kill.
All of these pressing social problems within our society which range from drugs, immigration, gangs, the mentally ill and homeless have a cause and effect relationship. The root causes of these problems are generally ignored by government officials who instead focus on the effects and then automatically respond to them in an irrational and belligerent manner that utilizes aggression and force to supposedly solve these problems
Militarization: a failure to pinpoint the causes and solutions of problems
The militarization solution in order to resolve complex problems has created negative consequences for our society. This has resulted in viewing certain minority communities through a military perspective and treating them as enemy combatants who need to be periodically occupied with heavily armed police and order maintained through the use of force.
Military action simply reinforces the present and backward mindset of negating the causes of social problems by primarily focusing on their harmful effects and then irrationally attempting to use aggressive tactics and force as a quick solution. Treating certain communities as the enemy who need to be periodically repressed and kept in their subordinate position within our society will only backfire and eventually create more anger and resistance as shown by the residents of Ferguson.
The increasing use of military-style campaigns by local police forces will not resolve any of our deeply-rooted social problems. A fresh and alternative approach is needed which requires a careful analysis of the causes of our pressing social problems and the formulation of logical and realistic policies that are practical, less costly and which will work in the real world.
For example, if we use our resources to fund and improve the educational level of people in our society, then poverty will be reduced as well as the lure of youth gangs and the eventual imprisonment of young people.
Meanwhile, reaching a just political agreement on immigration will result in reducing the amount of weaponry and violence along the border and decreasing the number of people deported and locked up in immigration detention centers.
The militarization of our society is proceeding in an incremental manner and this process is contradictory to maintaining democratic rights within our society. A militaristic outlook, mentality and repressive methods are incompatible with that of a democratic ideology that condones diverse ideas, methods and free expression.
We cannot have both which leaves us with two clear alternatives: either roll over and passively accept this growing totalitarian trend or stand firm, speak up and oppose it. Some middle-class people take the attitude that this issue doesn’t affect them as they don’t live in a barrio or ghetto. Yet, this undemocratic trend of militarization affects all of us in regard to our quality of life, the use of our taxes, our political right to protest and having to endure continual violence and countless new enemies.
Either take a stand to stop this march toward militarization or accept an eventual loss of personal liberties and rights to a regime that resembles ‘Big Brother’.
Jimmy Franco Sr. is the moderator and writer of the blog site: “A Latino Point of View in Today’s World” LATINOPOV.COM