America Is Not Immune from Brown Shirts

In this moment of hope emerging from the almost unbelievable set of constitutionally informed Supreme Court rulings on freedom of religion, gun rights, and abortion, it’s easy to imagine the tide has turned. America is back! 

Alas, even rulings as monumental as those of the past week are no antidote to the generations of cultural poison that continues to be mainlined into American society. The best we can do is to call upon the words of Winston Churchill after England had survived the Nazi air blitz: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

At best. Because the poisoning is extensive and follows the veins such poisons find most suitable. And so, we are forced to belabor the obvious for a moment in which too many mostly college-poisoned Americans have a slippery grasp on reality. 

Human nature is the same across races, ethnicities, and nationalities. There was nothing uniquely evil about the German human in 1939 or the French human during Napoleon’s reign or the Russian human under Stalin or the Chinese human under Mao or the Mongolian human riding with Ghengis Khan. 

What was different in these situations were the culture-supported systems, or lack of them, put in place that allowed all of the worst of human nature to flourish. America, acknowledging the essential depravity of human nature, had once put in place systems designed to check the worst impulses of our nature. But with those American institutions breaking down under relentless leftist, anti-American assaults over more than two generations, we are seeing what was always true: American human nature is like all others. 

And so in the past two years we have seen something many of us probably thought “can’t happen here”: The rise of the Brown Shirt within American law enforcement communities. This is particularly painful to acknowledge for those of us with beloved family members who are in law enforcement and are the opposite of Brown Shirts. But it nonetheless remains a truism that is denied at our own peril. 

As a recent example, we saw Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro arrested for not responding to a subpoena from the dubious House January 6 select committee. He was scooped up at the D.C. airport soon after arriving from his D.C. home, and cuffed by a full team of FBI agents. Navarro is 72 years old, 145 pounds soaking wet, and lives within three minutes of FBI headquarters. He has cooperated with federal investigators as far as executive privilege allowed him to do. But with Donald Trump claiming executive privilege, Navarro was ethically bound to not respond. 

FBI agents could have walked to his home, or asked him to turn himself in, which he says he would have done and his history suggests is the case. But they chose to make this a very public arrest, a strikingly unveiled threat to others who refuse to comply with state narratives. 

Coincidentally—by which I mean not coincidentally at all—Navarro had filed a civil lawsuit against the government days earlier for violating his civil rights. Their response was swift and humiliating. 

At the airport, Navarro, a smart lawyer, said he wanted to call his lawyer. He demanded to know the charges. But the lead agent took his phone and disallowed it and Navarro was taken into solitary and, he says, strip-searched. That’s multiple constitutional violations, which just don’t seem to matter to most American institutions, including the FBI. 

“They went with this shock-and-awe terrorist strategy,” Navarro told Tucker Carlson on Fox News. “They let me go to the airport and then take me with five agents, like an al-Qaeda terrorist, lock me into a car and the next thing I know I’m in leg irons, handcuffs, strip-searched.”

Abuses of Power

This has been going on for a while. And it’s not always simply partisan. Since COVID, it has been more and more clear that most of the response was on behalf of the power of the state and favor pharmaceutical firms, and little more. 

During the worthless lockdowns, we witnessed a mother arrested in Idaho for taking her child to the park, a lone individual surfing and another walking on the beach in California were also arrested, among endless other examples. We saw businesses raided for defying state orders to shut down seeing that their big chain competitors across the street were allowed to stay open. We saw people dragged out of public places for not wearing ineffectual face masks or not showing vaccination papers. Papers! 

On other fronts, we’ve seen parents targeted for speaking out against schools allowing young men to use the women’s bathrooms and shower facilities. Parents have been investigated and threatened for speaking up at public meetings. And parents who have spoken up have had those opinions included in their children’s educational reports. We saw a father at a Virginia school board meeting tackled and arrested for pointing out, rightly, that the district was hiding a trans rapist who had assaulted his daughter in the girl’s bathroom. 

In these and in countless other situations, pundits critical of the actions tend to blame the policy-setting entities, from school boards to the Justice Department, all of which, in fact, are behaving like oppressors. But here is the blunt, painful truth: Those institutions could do nothing if there were no members of law enforcement, from the local police to FBI agents, willing to act as the brute enforcers of state dictates. 

They may be a minority, but they are more than enough. Some are on board with policy, some will say they are just doing their jobs—“following orders” if we carry out our analogy to Germany in the 1930s. Some I have talked to, including high-ranking law enforcement, say they would never follow such orders and in discussions with their colleagues agree there are lines they would not cross. 

That requires a great deal of fortitude. Some humans have it. Many do not. History bears this out. 

Crumbling Foundations

But until the mid-20th century, America had systems in place that provided checks on human nature running rampant. The balance of powers instituted between branches of the federal government and between the federal government and the states actually drew upon the inevitability of human nature turning toward rapaciousness to create a natural friction that kept all of the government entities in check. Human nature at each level and in the various branches would work in ways that kept checks on all the others. And ultimately an informed and moral people were to be relied upon to keep all of them in check. 

But none of that is in place like it was. 

It is painfully clear with the proliferation of things like drag queen story hours and shocking degradations of parents actually taking their young children to drag clubs with dollar bills; or allowing their very young children to transition; or public schools promoting and hiding such activities from parents. It is becoming systemic and it’s stomach-turning. It is also the most recent evidence of the collapse of a once religious and moral people. 

John Adams was absolutely prophetic when he said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 

Too many of the American people are no longer religious or moral in any grounded, traditional way. They are too narcissistically preoccupied with TikTok and their phones, unable to think in any critical fashion, and as parents tend to accede all education to public schools that increasingly only teach our children what to think. College students are taught to shout down anyone who disagrees, a shocking transmogrification of the purpose of university. The checks and balances are failing and the power of the state is increasing. 

This religious and moral failing naturally trickles down through our institutions. Congress has ceded large swathes of power to the executive branch because for generations, the majority of the members of Congress chose the expediency of re-election over everything else. The current executive branch administration brazenly ignores court rulings—even by the Supreme Court—and does what it wants. It is not the first. 

The First Amendment provided for a highly protected freedom of the press. The founders knew well the importance of the Fourth Estate in holding the most powerful people—specifically, those in government—accountable to the people. Unfortunately, the media that once provided basic information, even if it was with a bias, that all sides could access, ceded this unifying territory to becoming little more than the communications arm of one party. 

Americans now are operating under two sets of information and “facts” that increasingly make it impossible to even have a conversation. And this makes it so much easier to demonize those from the other universe of information. 

The First Amendment also provided for freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Both of these were trampled and greatly weakened as pastors were arrested and churches closed down by armed law enforcement during COVID while the local Home Depot and Walmart remained open. But both were also ceded away by people who no longer are religious or even understand the rudiments of free speech. If Americans were the religious people they once were, this could never have happened. 

Considering this crumbling of these basic American institutions, along with the degradation of Americans themselves, it should come as no surprise that even law enforcement is being eroded. The more we turn away from foundational truths, the more this will be the case. 

Don’t think we could ever see actual Brown Shirts on American streets? Then you will be the most surprised, because we’re already seeing it.

About Rod Thomson

Rod Thomson is an author, former journalist, past Salem radio host and ABC TV commentator and founder of The Thomson Group. Twice banned on TikTok. Follow him on Instagram. Like Rod on Facebook.

Photo: Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images

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