Walmart Shoppers are… Big Brother?

I don’t know how many of you saw this press release called “Secretary Napolitano Announces Expansion of “If You See Something, Say Something” Campaign to Walmart Stores Across the Nation“.

I’ll quote it in it’s entirety here:

Washington, D.C. – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department’s national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country – launching a new partnership between DHS and Walmart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

“Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign—originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and funded, in part, by $13 million from DHS’ Transit Security Grant Program—is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

More than 230 Walmart stores nationwide launched the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign today, with a total of 588 Walmart stores in 27 states joining in the coming weeks. A short video message will play at select checkout locations to remind shoppers to contact local law enforcement to report suspicious activity.

The public service announcement will air in all Walmart stores equipped with checkout video screens.

Over the past five months, DHS has worked with its federal, state, local and private sector partners, as well as the Department of Justice, to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign and Nationwide SAR Initiative to communities throughout the country—including the recent state-wide expansions of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign across Minnesota and New Jersey. Partners include the Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, sports and general aviation industries, and state and local fusion centers across the country.

In the coming months, the Department will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally with public education materials and outreach tools designed to help America’s businesses, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.

Something about this concept scares the bejeezus out of me.

Remember that Sesame Street game of “One of These Things Is Not Like The Other”?

I still think that was an early training tool teaching how to profile individuals.

And that also scares me.

But now the government is asking the shoppers of Walmart to point out anything they find suspicious.

Umm… have you seen shoppers at Walmart? If you’ve never been in one, there’s a website dedicated to fun pictures of Walmart shoppers. Go check it out. Totally worth it.

I’d be on the phone with DHS the entire time I was on Walmart property!

I’m all about being aware of your surroundings. And I’m all about getting the local authorities involved if I know something to be not totally right.

But why do I feel like I’m Dr. Miles Bennell in some modern version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” when I read this article?

And why do I feel like we, as a country, are rapidly moving into a similar place that resulted in the creation of the Gestapo or the NVKD in times past?

I’m starting to think Orwell had it right in 1984:

From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

Updated 2011.09.28: Replaced embedded video with YouTube video.

Until next time...
Erik

4 thoughts on “Walmart Shoppers are… Big Brother?

  1. Well, this has two problems.

    First- Walmarts are so cluttered and messy, how would you ever see something amiss??

    Second- who WOULDN’T want to blow up a Walmart??

    1. It’s funny you mention the second part about blowing up a Walmart. I often seriously wondered why terrorists didn’t do that, or at least the Walmart Homeoffice. If they wanted to really dampen American spirits, forget major skyscrapers or government buildings. Strike a blow to American Commercialism by taking out the Homeoffice complex. Or at least Walmart’s Data Centers that process all of the financial transactions. I know at least one smart person at Walmart thought that was a possibility, because that might explain all the anti-explosive bunkers that went up around the Homeoffice after the events of 9/11.

      Then again, blowing up the Walmart Homeoffice might rally Americans even more around that US flag that’s wound up so tight they can’t see straight anymore and are willing to hand over even more of the few freedoms we actually have left. Hmm… I think I smell a government plot coming on for a future election.

  2. “I’m starting to think Orwell had it right…” Only starting? The Patriot Act sealed our fate 9 years ago.

    In the immortal words of Private Hudson, “We’re doomed, man, we’re fucked!”

    1. Sadly, I think it began long before that. But it seems every year since 9/11 a larger chunk is chipped away in the name of “safety and security”.

      Good Aliens reference, BTW.

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