Downtown Washington, DC is currently under what essentially amounts to military occupation. Streets are locked down, guarded by Army vehicles and blocked off by huge, garish checkpoints. Vehicular traffic is limited to motorists who can show papers demonstrating that, as one Guardsman told me, they are conducting “legitimate business.” (Apparently this includes Uber drivers and food delivery workers.) According to official estimates, 25,000 military personnel are now deployed to the area — on top of countless federal, state, and local law enforcement agents. Troops roam around carrying rifles with no ammo loaded. If you can manage to navigate on foot to the perimeter of the National Mall, you encounter an enormous fencing apparatus, complete with barbed wire.
Question: does anyone with a media job find this situation to be worthy of some further inquiry? Or in other words, worthy of questioning the premise of why such an extravagantly intensive military presence is allegedly necessary? Is it proportionate to the scale of the purported threat? Has the nature of the threat itself — whatever that might be, exactly — been adequately probed to determine whether it is grounded in reality? Already a bunch of purported threats initially trumpeted across the media with the usual five-alarm-five hysteria have dissipated in short order, so there is perhaps some reason for doubt in that regard.
Instead of applying a modicum of skepticism to this gigantic show of military force, much of which appears to be “security theater” in its purest form, our vaunted media is doing little other than cheering it on. And of course, inflating the threats being cited as justification for it. They can repeat over and over again that what occurred on January 6 at the Capitol was an “attempted coup,” and therefore everything and anything is justified to retaliate, but everyone with a brain by now should be able to recognize that the government was never at a greater than 0% risk of being overthrown that day. Fear-inducing terms like “insurrection,” “domestic terrorism,” “seditious conspiracy,” “armed rebellion,” and others have been marshaled intentionally to inure the public to extreme actions such as the swiftly-executed corporate censorship purge and now, the transformation of the country’s capital into a military fortress.
It’s doubly odd because the deployment of military personnel to various cities last summer, though generally welcomed by locals and intended to quell what had genuinely been a sudden outburst of destructive chaos, was depicted by media members at the time as the rawest incarnation of violent fascism. The New York Times nearly imploded in a spasm of wild outrage. Suddenly though, this unprecedented militarization of DC is greeted by the same media hive-mind as the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. It’s almost like the ultimate variable is not principled apprehension about the force of the state, but whose political priorities are being defended by such force — and who is being punished.
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