Blowback: Resilience [Part 1] (2012)

[The following was published July 4, 2012. It certainly wasn’t written that day.]

“They hate us for our freedoms.”

“If you don’t support this, you support the terrorists.”

“You have nothing to hide, so why do you care if they read your emails?”

A few years ago, the above statements were unquestioned. All Muslims were evil, all government policies were for fighting terrorism, and anyone who even suggested that the new government policies weren’t constitutional was unpatriotic and working for “the terrorists.” Because of this, the government was able to grant itself new (and blatantly unconstitutional) powers. These powers included wiretapping without a warrant, tracking drug purchases (notice you can’t buy pseudoephedrine without ID anymore) and a lot of other things nobody knows about, largely owing to the fact that it was written and passed within the span of one week. (Introduced 10/23/2001, passed 10/2/2001. And you thought Obamacare was “rammed through” because it took six months.)

But over the years, that unquestioned, “support the government or you support the terrorists” mindset finally started to crack, though it seems largely limited to libertarian, liberal, and generally non-neoconservative circles. This is due to numerous actions taken by the government that were meant to go under-the-radar, but ended up making nationwide headlines. Wiretapping has expanded to being able to track credit card purchases in real-time (funnily enough, the government now says that using cash is a sign of being a terrorist). Airport “security” has evolved to expose travelers to unhealthy amounts of radiation, as well as “patdowns” that would be termed sexual assault on the street, but “are for protecting against terrorists” as long as a government agent does them. The free exchange of ideas and information online is also seen as a “threat”, which has seen attempts like SOPA and PIPA (and the hellspawn offspring of both, known as CISPA). Under the guise of “fighting piracy” and terrorism (seeing a pattern here?), all three of these bills essentially gave the government a lot of control of and survelience over American networks. On the global level, our “freedom-loving” government has backed a similarly-worded treaty, known as ACTA.and, more recently, we have seen a gunrunning operation at the US-Mexico border, that we now know was tailor-made as a narrative for tighter gun laws.

And it isn’t partisan either. The TSA is part of the “Department of Homeland Security”, which began under President Bush. The PATRIOT Act was, of course, signed into law by President Bush. (And who would oppose a law called the “PATRIOT Act”?) SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA all saw major bipartisan support, with so-called “Tea Party” darlings in the House (specifically Allen West and Michelle Bachmann) voting for both SOPA and CISPA. (PIPA was a Senate bill, so they did not get the chance to vote for that for reasons we’ll discuss in a moment.) Bachmann even noted a “credible cyber threat” against the NYSE while the House was discussing CISPA. CISPA was later passed with some hastily-added ammendments by a voice vote.

It is clear to all but the most hardwired government supporters that the government has no interest in “protecting your freedoms.” Indeed, “the terrorists” have been very convenient ways to push through one bill after another built on degrading and destroying an American’s individual liberty.

And the individual is starting to notice.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen some very loud resistance to all of the above. The TSA has become a joke on multiple levels. Stunning incompetentence and disrespect have gone viral. (on more than one occasion.) SOPA and PIPA saw massive resistance and was shelved within days after protests broke out.

The Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare has only served to intensify that resistance, as shown by the administration’s desperate and regular attempts to avoid calling it a tax, thus giving the anti-tax “Tea Party” movement more than enough ammunition. The Court’s ruling that the law’s mandate can survive under Congress’ ability to tax has been a main focal point for the Tea Party’s arguments.

Outside of the political sphere, there is a growing survivalist movement. People are starting to get back to basics, and off the grid as best they can. Naturally, the media has tried to spin this new movement as criminal and irrational, mainly by picking out the worst of the crowd and using them to demean the entire movement.

Blowback is written at the center of that battle; at the flashpoint between government infringement on a person’s liberty, and the people dead-set on resisting and reversing it. This year, Blowback will look at the recent uptick in survivalist and self-reliance movements (and the frightening response of governments at all levels to said movements), get updates on CISPA and other laws/treaties that aim to take away a person’s freedom. The nature of both will be much darker than previous installments. Blowback will close with a look at what is being done to resist both, and the effectiveness of the Tea Party and Liberty movements.

1.) Survivalizm. As if anyone needed to be reminded after last year, Mother Nature is capable of causing incredible damage to everything from power grids, to cell phone networks. As of this writing, millions are out of power and over a dozen people have died as a result of both intense heat and fast-moving yet powerful storms. For about 2 days in most of Virginia, 911 networks were out as well. To put it another way, for about 2 days, many Virginians had no power, no cell service, and no access to 911.

This, and the almost-always-dismal economic news, as resulted in a revival of preparedness and survivalist movements. Activities and tech that doesn’t require a central network have seen a surge in activity. “Homesteading and other off-the-grid projects have become relatively common, even in urban areas. Ham Radio — which has proven its usefulness in Joplin, post-Katrina New Orleans, Arkansas, and yes, even at Fukushima, Japan — is seeing massive demand, with license applications at an all-time high.

The response from the government regarding ham radio has been characteristically hands off (ham radio is a largely self-policing hobby), but it is the reaction to homesteading, gardens, and even garage sales where things get a little bit more tense and, at the risk of being dramatic, alarming.

In 2009, a man named Andrew Wordes began raising chickens on his property in Roswell, GA. The government attempted to shut it down, but lost in court. As Off Grid Survival reports, the city of Roswell began almost non-stop harassment of Wordes, and from 2009 to 2011, attempted to take him to court, foreclose on his property, and even arresting him on, as OGS notes, “the day that he was to bring paperwork that would’ve delayed his bankruptcy and the foreclosure on his home.”

Finally, in March of this year, Roswell police attempted to evict Wordes. As WXIA-TV reported on March 27, Wordes responded after a two-hour standoff by blowing up himself and his home. There are many who believe that the city government is directly responsible for his death.

In Salem, Massachusetts last August, a terminally ill woman fighting bone cancer set up a garage sale to offset some of the costs. But a city regulation allowing only “three garage sales per year” resulted in the city government shutting down the whole operation. The story, as one might expect, went viral; appearing on the front pages of Fox News, The Blaze, and numerous other sources. We do not know if the city backed down and allowed for the garage sales to continue. In addition, people began going around the garage sale and directly donated money to her cause. Cline died on October 6, 2011. There are no reports on the city’s response to the reports going viral.

The most recent example comes from last month. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a woman with upwards of 100 different plants in her front and back yards sued the city after government officials essentially destroyed both the garden and most of the lawn. Naturally, the whole thing was caused by a single, anonymous complaint. The lawsuit is ongoing, but little information is known beyond that. The city, as of June 21, claims that it has not yet received the lawsuit. To demonstrate the carelessness with which the government went about removing the garden, NewsOn6 posted a before and after image to its website.

But those are local governments, and state governments. What about the federal government?

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