Last week Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick’s post drew our attention to news of India’s National Human Rights Commission calling out a local government for its remarkable decision to order protesters to seek professional counselling. Over at my own blog I focused on the positive lesson I drew from the Commission’s action. For wholly unrelated reasons, Rich Fording today emailed me a US Federal Bureau of Investigation memo from 1967 that puts the story from India in a US historical context. It warns of “a strong possibility of outbreaks of riots and lawless demonstrations during the coming months.”
Excepting page 2, the memo is rather remarkable for those of us who are unaccustomed to reading FBI documents from the COINTELPRO era, so I post above page 1 and below pages 3 and 4. What really jumped out at me, though, is item #6 on page 4:
The mental and emotional stability of some of the most active agitators is subject to question. A program of confining these persons for psychiatric observation and examination following arrests would not only prove embarrassing to their cause but might result in psychiatric care to rabble who are desperately in need of it.
Professor LeBon’s The Crowd indeed!