Commentary by Jack Bragen

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Nazis were loyal to their leader and they adored him and his vision. Those who didn’t love Adolf Hitler and his cause were terrified into silence.
It was suicide to speak out against the Nazi regime. Books were put into piles and set on fire. The government began to round up Jews, disabled people, gay people, people of different races and nationalities (non-Aryans in general), and any dissenters who had spoken out against their cause. It was a reign of terror.
But everyone knows all of this, except perhaps the Holocaust deniers, who assert that it never happened and that it was a mass hallucination. Recently, the sign at the entrance gate of Dachau concentration camp, which translated said, “Work Will Set You Free,” was stolen. As more of the eyewitnesses of the Holocaust are dying from old age, the deniers apparently would like to eliminate the evidence.
Now, in the United States, we have police forces and courts who have formed their own agreement as to how things will run. Police have killed law-abiding citizens who have given no provocation. The courts are participants in this slaughter by virtue of inaction. The courts often have, in effect, given their seal of approval for police to kill citizens indiscriminately.
I have met people who worship authority. In their view, the police can do no wrong and those in authority can do no wrong. They think they have “nothing to hide” and do not object to being spied upon and controlled by this godly authority.
A strategy employed by our government, in cahoots with the mass media, is to maintain focus on enemies external to the United States. This distracts many who might be actively opposing our increasing oppression at home.
Perhaps one reason the courts and juries refuse to convict officers and sentence them to prison is that they would be hard to protect if they are jailed. Or, perhaps, the district attorneys and others in authority are wary of angering the police, since they rely so heavily on police to enact their orders and to keep them protected.
Yet, these explanations are not good enough, since our Constitution is supposed to ensure equal protection under the law. It seems that police and the courts no longer care about following the laws they are entrusted to enforce. Instead they are attempting to become a dictating force.
Too often, the police attempt to rule through fear. An overwhelming fear of crime and social disorder, and an unthinking desire for law and order, were exploited by the Nazis when they came into power. However, there are variations on the situation in present-day America and Germany in the 1930s, especially since the American middle class is accustomed to liberty and to not living in fear of our government.
My prediction is that things will become gradually more oppressive. There will likely not be an abrupt point where this repression will go far beyond what is acceptable, because the idea of those in power is to slip bits and pieces past us in the absence of one alarming violation of freedom or civil rights that would make people take notice and stand up.
The level of government-induced fear is gradually being raised. When things are done in bits and pieces over a longer timeframe, it prevents general alarm from taking hold — yet before we know it, we could be facing a police state.

“Report Police Crimes.” Art by Doug Minkler
“Report Police Crimes.” Art by Doug Minkler

Meanwhile, we are at the stage where police are being elevated above the law, and the courts have given them license to kill at whatever point they wish.
It frighteningly appears as though police collectively have formed their own brotherhood of some kind, in which they do not have to obey the laws that they were originally hired to enforce.
I have no intention of insulting or deriding police in general. If we didn’t have them, we would be worse off. I have been helped by police many times in my life.
However, I have also seen the bad side of police. It can be terrifying to deal with an armed man or woman who has at his or her discretion the option of putting us in prison, or who could even beat or shoot us on the spot. If a person with that level of authority over us begins to violate the laws that they are sworn to uphold, we have a serious problem on our hands.
Clashes are increasingly taking place between police and demonstrators, and we have seen too many shootings by police of the innocent. The fact that some enraged citizens are attacking police doesn’t help matters. This is only going to make tensions escalate, and police will become more extreme in their methodology. This in turn will only make more people angry at them.
When police stop obeying mayors, government officials, judges or even the president, then, at that point, we are looking at the end of democracy in its present form. The country could become a police state, or become degraded into chaos.
When citizens are fed up with errant police behavior to the extent that petitions are circulated for a new police reform act, we could see a change in how people are treated. We need to make the law enforcement branch of government accountable to citizens and to the law. At present, there appears to be little or no accountability. This is a hole in our Constitution, and in our democracy, that must be patched.