Knowledge is power. It is here that the existing hive of Anonymous can connect with first responders to benefit all the world’s inhabitants. Ethical police need Anons’ help, and vice versa — though members of each community may disagree. I believe those of us who belong to both groups would overwhelmingly agree; both groups are integral to the solution.
The disruption of communication among first responders — both amongst themselves and between first responders and citizens — is a major theme of this blog. Ethical first responders exist, though they are scattered. They recognize each other by their tone and the recurring theme of ostracism and bullying at work.
Many of them feel so isolated that they are both surprised and pleased when they hear similar horror stories from people all around the country. Not glad that others are dealing with bullying and abuse, just relieved to know they’re not alone, and despite what they’re told, they’re not wrong or crazy, either.
The corrupt system has socially engineered the public safety community very well, to the detriment of all but the very few. Citizens greatly overestimate the ability of first responders to communicate, believing that their unions protect them, and that they have the same civil rights everyone else has. This is not so. First responders are excluded from the public discourse, creating a “seen and not heard” minority charged with serving others. They are in many ways chattel.
This creates significant hostility towards the citizens, who are allowed to frame and drive every conversation. The divide grows, and the citizens — who never hear the thoughts of rank and file responders — have no idea how they worsen the rift by talking at, over, and around first responders. It’s “all talk, no listen.” This tries the patience of even the most ethical firefighter, police officer, or paramedic.
The public narrative about first responders has developed in a vacuum and fossilized, making communication even more difficult; the testimony of first responders is often dismissed as inaccurate or invalid simply because it differs too greatly from what the public believes.
The consciousness revolution that is Anonymous can only be hindered by such false narratives, so deeply ingrained, being left intact.
The means of organizing and enabling a community of ethical first responders is in its infancy. Very few first responders (at least among the ones I know) are even aware of Anonymous, much less understand it or see how they could fit in. Some of the police know what they’ve heard in the media and from authority about anti-sec; this is as limited and distorted as what civilians think about first responders.
A powerful symbiosis is possible now.
Anonymous has extensive experience at community building, enormous intellectual and technical resources, and (as shown by the Arab Spring, OWS, and other actions around the world) the ability to make things happen in real life. Years of collaboration have created a very fertile and wide-open field.
Anons, with their elegant avenues of communication, tend to live in an IT bubble; they can be unaware of the parts of the world that are (psychologically/socially) still largely analog, i.e., the public safety community. For many Anons, you don’t exist unless you exist on the internet.
While Anonymous has created an amazingly open ideology, their thought processes are not always practical — sometimes you can’t get there from here. First responders, on the other hand, are the lords and ladies of pragmatism; freed from their social and psychological oppression, they would be a force to be reckoned with. I acknowledge that they don’t all want to be free. But Anons may be surprised at how many would readily join them if there were a place at the table.
Unfortunately many Anons tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to first responders. Every first responder has also been a civilian; the reverse is not true. It is difficult to know what you do not know.
First responders have information; literally the jackpot of transparency is to be had from uniformed personnel. This is why so much effort is put into keeping them silent. Before Lieutenant Pike ever pepper sprayed an Occupier, co-workers tried to stop him; the system oppresses first responders as a precursor to oppressing the public. Many police officers try to stop brutal, corrupt co-workers and instead become targets.
Despite the public’s perception, first responders are often highly skilled at critical thinking. They must verify everything for themselves, and take full responsibility — as I believe all new-paradigm citizens must to do inhabit an empowered world. Unfortunately the system often rewards those who do not do the above, placing them in positions of power over ethical officers.
Just as Anonymous is much more than teenage hackers defacing websites, the public perception of who first responders are and what they do is grossly inaccurate. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics are experts at solving whatever problems arise in a community, no matter how sudden, bizarre, or shocking. Sprezzatura is an underestimated and undervalued skill.
If there were a better established tradition of citizens listening to uniformed personnel, Wikileaks would not be necessary. Many soldiers have told enough stories for the public to see the handwriting on the wall, if they would choose to listen. If everyone who watched Jersey Shore also watched at least one Winter Soldier’s statement, Brad Manning would not be dying for their sins. The information is available. If VVAW, Calvin Chang or Mr. Fuddlesticks had received widespread citizen support, countless abuses of the world’s citizens would have been nipped in the bud.
In a just, transparent society Anonymous and uniformed personnel would be as one. If you don’t belong to both of these communities, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about their culture, and begin building a bridge.
- Anonymous intercepts call between FBI and Scotland Yard discussing Anonymous (venturebeat.com)
- How ‘Anonymous’ Went From Mischief Makers to a Force That Terrifies Corporations and Governments (alternet.org)
- A Brief History of Anonymous (pdalbury.wordpress.com)