- - Monday, September 3, 2012



CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Welcome to the police state.

Interest in the political conventions has plummeted, approval of politicians has reached historic lows and our public treasury is nearly broke. So what does the behemoth bureaucratic government apparatus do?

It erects the most impenetrable wall of security ever amassed to protect and promote the political gatherings that separate the hyper-elite from those out of power, unimportant and irrelevant. In other words, taxpayers.

All in the name of security, the operation protects politicians and party operatives from the wrath of the people whose money they spend and whose freedoms are trimmed with every new law they pass.

All the speeding SUVs with blacked-out windows, screaming sirens, lines of police in riot gear with long batons and choppers whapping overhead also add to the feeling of great importance that already deludes these people. And it serves to deepen their sense of entitlement to your money and your freedom.

It starts to feel like the last, desperate gasp of a dying power.

In Tampa, Fla., and now here in Charlotte, N.C., thousands of troops, police and Secret Service agents flood the city and set up giant perimeters around the convention sites. They close off public land, shut down streets and take over private property.

Miles of concrete jersey barriers and 14-foot high human cages are linked in dizzying mazes, designed to thwart intruders and confuse attendees.

In Tampa, some 17 gunboats with blinking lights patrolled a length of waterway about two football fields long. At least two at any given moment sported .50-caliber guns mounted on their bows.

Entering the perimeter, you get radiated by machines, groped by TSA agents and stared at by Secret Service goons who make Vladimir Putin look friendly. Inside the perimeter and in the immediate outskirts, all rights, laws and protections are summarily lifted. Traffic laws are reversed, sidewalks rerouted and even the most basic protections outlined in the Bill of Rights are suspended. You are searched and seized at every turn.

Here, justice is at the whim of the nearest gunman, who now represents every branch of the federal government. He is lawmaker, judge and jury. And by the looks of his weaponry, willing executioner, too.

If you come armed with a plastic bottle of water, they will strip it from you. One poor fellow on a bicycle stopped to ask for directions and was ordered to dismount his bike before addressing a guard and was set upon by a gang of them when he hesitated.

“Protests” are relegated to some “free-speech zone” — no, not a term from a George Orwell book — so far away that there is no danger of someone actually telling these people what they ought to hear.

This little taste of totalitarianism is particularly suited for a place like Charlotte, where buttoned-down bankers hours and faux-Southern conservatism rule the day.

Now let’s not get carried away. This is not Orwell’s “1984.” Not yet, anyway. But it sure makes for a good trial run. And tyranny is never too far from hand.

Back before the schools quit teaching American history and our Founders became vilified as radicals, every child was taught about tyranny. This is what it looked like. And if we are not careful, it is what our future could look like, too.

Charles Hurt can be reached at [email protected]

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