Sex, Drones, and Habeas Corpus: Why I Hate the Pseudo-Liberals the Most
by Reidar Visser
You know what? I’m not particularly bothered by the role played in police stalking by taxi drivers, delivery staff, hotel maids, waiters, shopkeepers, park workers, hairdressers, train personnel, municipality officials and foreign tourists. It is true that these categories form an important support base of many police stalking operations. However, thanks to the sorry state of the educational establishments in most Western countries, many people in these groups will never have had the opportunity to receive basic schooling in the fundamentals of the rule of law concept. Many of them will also have a type of work where there is often potential for conflict with the police, and where such conflicts are best avoided. That many of them would do exactly what the police says without thinking twice is both unremarkable and perfectly understandable.
How about the role of the police themselves? To be honest, I think many of them are simply following orders and aren’t necessarily very enthusiastic about what they are doing in stalking operations. Their education has taught them to not ask too many profound questions regarding the parameters of the police’s remit, so it would require a good deal of courage for any of them to blow the whistle once the police itself begins perpetrating crimes. True, the multiplication of “organised crime” units in Western policing over the past decades seems to have given rise to a generic brand of government-sponsored thugs across the globe, but their overall role in police stalking is still limited, at least in numerical terms.
Equally important here is the fact that any number of angry police officers will never be able to construct a police state on their own. The most critical factor in deciding whether police state tactics will succeed or not is the stance of the chattering liberal classes. University lecturers, lawyers, schoolteachers, doctors, economists, bureaucrats, journalists and other intellectuals who will frequently claim that they are “liberals”. These are the supposed guardians of the Western rule of law culture. Because of their education, they know, or are supposed to know, that things like the presumption of innocence, the principle of legality and habeas corpus are sacred ideals that cannot be compromised by the police in a functioning rule of law society. Precisely because of their supposedly “independent” occupations, these groups have historically been trusted with special and leading roles in politics and society at large. If the system fails in a democratic country, a free press and a prospering liberal civic society may function as added safety valves.
Conversely, when liberals participate in illegal police operations like police stalking, they become pseudo-liberals (or “bully worshippers” in Orwellian terminology). When that happens, police state dynamics can easily take hold. In a police stalking situation, the normal distribution of power between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary has collapsed: The police are themselves lawmakers, judges and executioners. Additionally, in most countries, “independent police commissions” are in reality fully or partly controlled by the executive, meaning that the victim of police stalking often has nowhere else to turn to than to “liberal” lawyers, journalists and members of the medical profession. When those channels are blocked too because “liberals” have opted to dance along to the police’s illegal tunes, few alternatives are left for police stalking victims.
It is for these reasons I find it particularly enraging to see assumed “liberals” participate en masse in the operation against me. I have seen avowed liberals working as lawyers, doctors and journalists in Norway and the Netherlands openly side with the police. Sometimes they even take part in the most medieval rituals in the harassment protocol, including deliberately taking staged photos in front of me (controversial photography being the reason for my trouble with the police). Where I currently am, cooperation with the police in unusual punishment can get you 14 years in jail, and yet highly educated members of the “liberal” public do not seem to care that they are breaking both the anti-torture act and their own principles by taking part.
Of course, I have seen ample examples of this pseudo-liberal problem in my previous academic work on the Middle East too. With regard to Iraq, back in 2007 it was often the most “liberal” commentators in the United States that insisted on a simplistic reading of the Iraq’s politics and the prescription of an highly inadequate and dangerous 3-way partition scheme. Today, journalists writing for US newspapers continue to do damage to Iraq by insisting on facile sectarian lenses for explaining the country’s politics to the American chattering classes, thereby often running errands for Al-Qaeda and Iran under a liberal flag.
Similarly, over the last year, my Twitter feed has bifurcated on another Middle East related issue: The use of drones for extra-judicial killings. What was formerly a mostly homogeneous feed of sensible comments on the region is now more and more divided between those who are prepared to call President Barack Obama a murderer for what his military and intelligence apparatus are carrying out in places like Yemen, and those who find such frank language unpalatable.
As a victim of police stalking, I find the drone issue a particularly apt parallel to my own case – and the defence among some brave liberals for the victims of drone warfare a source of hope. Precisely as in drone warfare, in police stalking a good portion of the assumed “liberals” around the world are suddenly prepared to give up hard-fought principles like due process and habeas corpus because the target of the government’s abuse is a marginal person. When such irreducible minimum principles of rule of law are compromised by the very people who claim to speak in their name, the foundation of modern liberal society itself comes under threat. The good news consists of brave liberals who stand up for drone victims. Drone victims typically include outcasts and villains, but they have exactly the same human right to due process as everybody else. Americans who can insist on the rights of people in Yemen who may well be Al-Qaeda (e.g. Anwar al-Awlaki) could potentially also stand up for someone like me, extra-judicially accused of photography and membership of a sexual minority and persecuted with police methods that are likely to kill me sooner or later.
Of course, Americans will be accustomed to this kind of double standards among liberals given the influence of pro-Israeli currents in US politics for the past half-century. Through my own frustrated ordeal, I appreciate the Arab rage in the face of such double standards even more than before. There are crystal clear UN resolutions relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict which Israel continues to violate with massive support from so-called liberals in the USA. Like Arabs, I am beginning to realise that all the talk about human rights, anti-torture and the United Nations is often tongue in cheek: These are convenient slogans that are being bandied about only in contexts where they are completely harmless. They have no profound meaning any longer.
At the organisational level, two groups that I have been in touch with stand out for the preponderance of pseudo-liberals: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While these are decentralised organisations where generalisations can be unfair, the trend that I have come across in Norway, the Netherlands and elsewhere is remarkably uniform: Amnesty and HRW are extremely angry about human rights abuse in exotic locations, but rarely dare to speak up against oppressors and human rights criminals closer to home – including the national police in the areas where they are based. I have seen Amnesty and HRW members refuse to take my case seriously, and I have seen members of these organisations cooperate with the police in the most primitive and illegal ways imaginable. In terms of perverting liberal principles, many in these organisations are in a class by themselves.
It is also possible to identify clusters of pseudo-liberals in national and generational terms. In my case, the Netherlands stands out for the contrast between its relatively liberal image internationally and the realities of widespread totalitarian attitudes in the population as seen in the preparedness to unquestioningly serve the police. In terms of Stalinism, what I saw during one year in the Netherlands goes beyond what I have seen in any other of the 13 countries where I have been persecuted. As for generational and life-cycle factors, “liberal” parents stand out as another group of particularly zealous participants in the most perverted forms of police stalking. Often they are criminalising their own children in the process. One can sometimes get the impression that the act of parenting in itself induces greater subservience to the police and others authorities claiming to speak in the name of law enforcement. While this can be a perfectly understandable, biology-related form of protective behaviour among new parents, the question of the impact of parenting on everyday attachment to core values of liberalism merits more investigation.
Recently, many people who probably see themselves as liberals have raised eyebrows over my switch of focus from Iraq to human rights problems in liberal democracies. What I am going through in terms of police stalking is torture and sexual-minority persecution bankrolled by the Norwegian government. But you may need to be prepared to label Obama as a murderer before you can appreciate that.