Is our country turning into a police state?
That’s the question posed by political commentator, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in a recent interview with Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens and host of AMAC’s Better For America podcast.
“Police State” is also the title of D’Souza’s newest film. As he described it, “This is a startling, in some ways a frightening film, but it’s a film that I think issues a necessary warning before our liberties are lost altogether.”
As he described it, a police state is about “mass surveillance of citizens … systematic censorship … indoctrination and propaganda in the schools and in the media … criminalization of political differences … the undermining of religious liberty. Many, if not most of those things are now present in the United States to one degree or another.”
To be sure, he noted, the U.S. is not yet “a full-fledged police state. If we were, I couldn’t make a film called ‘Police State.’ I would be already locked up. In fact, I doubt we could be having this conversation.”
But, D’Souza said, “We are moving in that direction. What worries me is that we have seen such an escalation in just the past two years … And so, the job of the film is to strip away the veil, look behind the facade, show what’s really going on, the naked brutality, the vicious abuses of power. One of the mysteries I try to unravel in the film is how do you get decent people to do indecent things.”
One way to do it is to employ what he calls the “techniques of dehumanization.”
For example, he said “Hillary Clinton talks about supporters of the MAGA movement as cult members, and they need to be deprogrammed. So you can see the same kind of rhetoric. It’s a rhetoric of dehumanization. And we know from police states that dehumanization comes first, the incarceration comes next. And in some cases, the extermination comes after that … If you look at censorship, for example, academia is involved, the media, nonprofit groups, the government, and digital platforms. So, look at what kind of an octopus we have here stretching across both the public and private sector.”
D’Souza suggested that the origins of the police state go back to 9/11 and the powers of surveillance given to the government at that time.
“It was a bipartisan project, and I’m sorry to say I was included in the sense that I was one of those people who thought, well, we probably do need to give the government these enhanced powers because there are foreign terrorists who are trying to kill us,” she said. “In fairness, none of us suspected that these exact same powers could then be turned against American citizens, can be used against political opponents. So, I think the real villain who started this was Obama. It started under Obama. But the police state tactics under Obama were modest. They were just the beginnings of things. And things have really escalated in the last two years under Biden. We see naked police state tactics used across the board. And in many cases, they don’t even try to conceal it. It’s almost like they want you to know that they’re doing it to terrify people into thinking, ‘Hey, I better not get out of line because I could be next.’”