Are we able to see the consequences of the authorities’ gradual introduction of stricter controls – similar to those found in countries where law enforcement agencies are increasingly militarised, and where cities are imposing zero tolerance policies for minor offenses?
Do we understand what is really taking place when our government argues in favour of arming the police? For example in Norway, where its parliament’s previous decision was against permanently arming the police, government’s champions won a victory in June this year when a motion allowing the police to carry firearms in «vulnerable areas» was passed. The Norwegian government is aware that crime rates are reduced when zero tolerance policies are introduced. But.
«What if the US – with its conservative ‘Wild West’ attitudes and the world’s most overcrowded prisons – exports this mentality to a small country like Norway?»
Such changes are indicative of a particular atmosphere in the society. What Stimmung or mood (a concept from Martin Heidegger’s philosophy) represents the mentality of our time? Which dogmas and norms are gaining currency, so that they become ideologically and morally anchored in our system of values? Responding to demands for greater security, governments resort to technology and police methods that are employed in other parts of the world – ones we do not like to compare ourselves with. This «governmentality» thus gains acceptance among the majority of the population and as a result becomes acceptable.
Let me give one telling example of this tendency: American law enforcement officers go to Israel to receive training and Israeli military experts train American police officers on US soil. They have plenty of experience in handling Palestinian demonstrations and managing internal control and border security in the occupied territories. The increased presence of police forces makes civilian demonstrations in the US resemble war zones, replete with armoured vehicles, …
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