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Authoritarians are digging in for Y2K trouble in the U.S. and abroad.

The FBI recently issued a statement clarifying a USA Today
story, which had made it seem the government was preparing for a
millennium Armageddon with “anti-government” elements — especially
those of a religious persuasion. But the clarification still sounded
like the FBI had identified Christians, patriots and other
anti-establishment individuals as public enemies.

“‘Project Megiddo’ is the culmination of an FBI research initiative
which analyzed the potential for extremist criminal activity in the U.S.
by individuals or domestic groups who attach special significance to the
year 2000,” said the report. “In an effort to educate investigators and
officials in the law enforcement community about potential violence
associated with or motivated by the arrival of the year 2000, the FBI
conducted extensive research into the various ideologies and concepts
which serve to motivate groups or individuals with violent agendas. Many
extremists place significance on the next millennium, and may present
challenges to law enforcement authorities. The significance is based
primarily upon apocalyptic religious beliefs or political beliefs
concerning the New World Order conspiracy theory. The report is intended
to provide a clear, measured and responsible picture of potential
extremism motivated by the next millennium, and to increase awareness
among law enforcement officials of the unique challenges that may be
presented by extremists motivated by millennial agendas.”

That’s part of what the FBI had to say. It isn’t much different from
what their counterparts in Beijing were doing a few days later.

Here’s part of a dispatch from the South China Morning Post this
week: “A crackdown on cults across the mainland has been organized by
the authorities ahead of the millennium to prevent possible unrest
instigated by religious fanatics.”

Like Louis Freeh and company, the boys in Beijing said they were
“deeply alarmed by the influence in the countryside of some doomsday
cults.”

“Some cults have preached that the end of the world would come in the
new millennium and have urged followers to give up their ‘worldly
fortunes’ to follow their leaders,” the report said.

Amazing, isn’t it? Why are officials in Washington and Beijing so
scared of what’s coming? Why are they both preparing crackdowns on
dissidents in anticipation of the year 2000?

The reason the tyrants in the U.S. and China are behaving so
similarly is that they are afraid of people who believe in something
other than raw state power. That’s the bottom line. That’s why China
used excessive, brute force to crush the Buddhists in Tibet. And that’s
why the FBI presided over the wholesale slaughter of the Branch
Davidians in Waco, Texas.

There’s really not all that much difference between the totalitarians
in Washington and those in Beijing. Oh, yeah, sure there are degrees of
difference. In China, they execute cult leaders as a matter of course.
In the United States, fortunately, it is still unusual for religious
dissidents to be killed by the government. But it happens. It happens.

And it’s likely to happen more frequently in the new millennium. Why?
Because the governments are preparing for it. How else can one explain
these reports? I haven’t heard of any attacks by millennial cultists on
government installations or personnel. Have you? Yet, here are the most
powerful governments in the world preparing for an assault. Go figure.

It’s true that some religious groups and individuals put much stock
in the significance of the calendar. Big deal. Do any of them call for
the violent overthrow of the government? I don’t know of any such plans
or theologies. The overwhelming majority of religious people — whether
they are Buddhists in China or Christians in the U.S. — are peaceful,
exceptionally peaceful.

You would think the government would be more concerned with
non-religious people who feel no sense of accountability to a higher
authority. Those people tend to be less peaceful and more of a threat to
their neighbors.

But it’s not the safety of your neighbors the government is concerned
about. It’s you — you people who don’t think government represents the
ultimate authority. That’s what concerns the authoritarians in Beijing
and Washington.

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