by Rachael Woodhouse
In this first of a two-part article series, I will discuss comparisons to the East German Stasi, widely considered to be even more oppressive than the Nazis or the Soviet KGB. In part two, I will then show that underclass treatment has long been the norm throughout much of American history – in ways that some people haven’t yet noticed.
The callers are lighting up the phone lines. The talk hosts are fuming with righteous anger. Bloggers and independent journalists are voicing their opinions. Exactly what is frightening and angering people? The looming, ominous American police state. With DHS Chief Janet Napolitano justifying the Stasi-like new initiative of “See Something, Say Something”, those who know history are leery of the similarities to several repressive regimes.
On a recent CNN interview, Napolitano stressed the theme of putting it on the everyday people – not the government – to make the idea work:
“It just sounds very Big Brother to me, turning in the next door neighbor.” CNN’s Candy Crowley said to Napolitano during an interview on “State of the Union.”
“It’s not,” Napolitano insisted. “It depends on the common sense of the American people. I think they have common sense. And it depends on, again … getting through this notion that our safety, our security and the world we live in today is a shared responsibility.”
And what are the fruits of “See Something, Say Something”? Incidents such as this one, in which a professor was handcuffed, arrested, and removed from a plane for possessing a “suspicious” piece of carry-on luggage that contained, among other things, a bagel.
But is this growing police state really new? Perhaps in America, but not in other countries, especially those in Eastern Europe that lived through Communism.
From Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police by John O. Koehler
(Westview Press): “The Stasi was much, much worse than the Gestapo, if you consider only the oppression of its own people,” according to Simon Wiesenthal of Vienna, Austria, who has been hunting Nazi criminals for half a century. “The Gestapo had 40,000 officials watching a country of 80 million, while the Stasi employed 102,000 to control only 17 million.” One might add that the Nazi terror lasted only twelve years, whereas the Stasi had four decades in which to perfect its machinery of oppression, espionage, and international terrorism and subversion.
Like a giant octopus, the Stasi’s tentacles probed every aspect of life. Full-time officers were posted to all major industrial plants. Without exception, one tenant in every apartment building was designated as a watchdog reporting to an area representative of the Volkspolizei (Vopo), the People’s Police. In turn, the police officer was the Stasi’s man. If a relative or friend came to stay overnight, it was reported. Schools, universities, and hospitals were infiltrated from top to bottom. German academe was shocked to learn that Heinrich Fink, professor of theology and vice chancellor at East Berlin’s Humboldt University, had been a Stasi informer since 1968. After Fink’s Stasi connections came to light, he was summarily fired. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, writers, actors, and sports figures were co-opted by Stasi officers, as were waiters and hotel personnel. Tapping about 100,000 telephone lines in West Germany and West Berlin around the clock was the job of 2,000 officers.
Congressman Ron Paul, one of American’s biggest lions of liberty, sees the connection: We must not allow the out-of-control Department of Homeland Security to impose an East German-like police state in the US, where neighbors are encouraged by big brother or big sister to inform on their neighbors. We must not accept that government authorities should hector us via television screens as we go about our private lives like we are living in Orwell’s 1984.
Rather than mocking the cries of the vigilant, the vast numbers of Americans who are ignorant of history or apathetic to it would be wise to listen to Ron Paul, Alex Jones, and other astute citizens who are trying to wake up the sheeple.