Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Walmart goes all Big Brother on us

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 12:46 PM

As if things in the U.S. hadn’t gotten weird enough lately, now Walmart wants its customers to start turning in each other to the authorities. The retail behemoth has joined the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, a Big Brotherish effort that urges Americans to be on the lookout for “indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats,” and to report any “suspicious activity” to law enforcement agencies. As part of the campaign, more than 588 Walmart stores nationwide are gearing up to broadcast announcements on TV monitors at store checkouts, reminding customers that they should report all suspicious activity they witness in the stores or parking lots.

Great, just what we need: The People of Walmart as domestic spies. I can see it now: “Hey, Lester, you see that fat ol’ gal over there with the ‘Obama Mama’ T-shirt? She kinda looks like that Shake Mohammer terrorist guy, don’tcha think? Hell, let’s call the law.” It’s not bad enough that Americans let the country turn into Fear Central after 9/11, thus giving bin Laden the victory he wanted; now we’re supposed to start turning each other in for “suspicious activity,” like collaborating East Germans courting the favor of the Stasi secret police. You have to wonder how many shoppers will be turning in the undocumented workers Walmart is known to hire regularly — as evidenced by the big-box retailer’s 2005 agreement to pay the federal government $11 million after a four-year DHS investigation into its hiring practices.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the deal with Walmart via the exciting video shown below, in which she urges everyone to “report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff.” Napolitano’s scariest line, however, may be her next sentence: “If you need help, ask a Walmart manager for assistance.”

If you think the Walmart connection is the final link in the DHS’ anti-terror chain, think again. The DHS press release ends this way:

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.

This Walmart customer thinks you look suspicious. Photo courtesy of PeopleofWalmart.com
  • This Walmart customer thinks you look suspicious. Photo courtesy of PeopleofWalmart.com

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