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A Government of Wolves: The Emerging Police State by John Whitehead

These are just some of the instances chronicled by John W. Whitehead in his frightening book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, published in 2013. Whitehead has written a comprehensive account of how we are losing our privacy, our freedoms, and even our bodily integrity to intrusive surveillance, aggressive policing, and the courts who are acting more as “courts of order” than courts of justice.

  • Jerri Lynn Ward,
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“A man I had never seen before in my life touched my fourteen-year-old son’s genitals today right in front of me. I was ashamed, angered, in fact saw red with fury. If my intentions at that moment had been read by some sort of brain scanning device (which is certainly being developed) I would no doubt not be at liberty to write this. It was the most vile violation of his privacy, his person, his innocence. There was not a single thing I could do about it. He worked for the TSA.”1

“Today, most Americans have lost their faith in Christ as Savior, and they expect civil government to be their savior. They have no desire for the responsibilities of self-government, and so they say to politicians, ‘Do thou rule over us.’ Instead of Jesus Christ as their good shepherd, they elect politicians to be their shepherds on a program of socialistic security for all.”2 ~ R. J. Rushdoony

In 2003, 71-year-old legally-blind Eunice Crowder was hit in the head with such force her prosthetic eye flew out, kicked in the back, and pepper-sprayed in the face. These acts were not committed by a mugger, but by a police officer. Ms. Crowder, after city employees began removing shrubs and what the city considered trash from her yard, had the audacity to request she be allowed on the city truck to look for a ninety-year-old wagon which was a family heirloom. Because she persisted in her request, police were called. Upon their arrival, the officer approached her and stepped on her foot and after the blind woman asked who was standing on her foot, the violence against her commenced.3

On June 7, 2011, a federal SWAT team, acting under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice, battered down Kenneth Wright’s front door, dragging him outside in his underwear, throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him. His three children, ages three, seven, and eleven, were detained in a squad car. The purpose of the raid was to obtain information from Mr. Wright as to the whereabouts of his estranged wife who was delinquent on her student loans.4

On August 16, 2012, veteran Brandon Raub’s home was swarmed by local police, Secret Service, and FBI attempting to interrogate him about Facebook posts he had made wherein he pasted song lyrics, dialogue used in a virtual card game, and his political opinions. After briefly questioning him, they handcuffed him and eventually spirited him away to a medical center holding him against his will. After a hearing reminiscent of the old Soviet proceedings declaring dissidents to be mentally ill, he was sentenced to thirty days confinement in a VA psyche ward. Had friends and family not videotaped the initial encounter and posted it on YouTube, he might have been “disappeared” into a mental institution as John Whitehead points out has happened to other veterans.5

These are just some of the instances chronicled by John W. Whitehead in his frightening book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, published in 2013. Whitehead has written a comprehensive account of how we are losing our privacy, our freedoms, and even our bodily integrity to intrusive surveillance, aggressive policing, and the courts who are acting more as “courts of order” than courts of justice. 

Whitehead describes a wide swath of attacks on liberty from intrusive surveillance which violates the Fourth Amendment, to militarized police forces who emphasize using domination, intimidation, and control instead of de-escalation and peacemaking, to criminalization of mundane and ordinary activities of citizens while shifting the burden of proof so we are presumed guilty, to forced humiliation and searches by the TSA, as well as astounding rates of incarceration of Americans in comparison with the rest of the world including some of the most despotic nations.  The book proposes we are fast approaching a police state, if we are not already there.

Government Schools as Engines of Conditioning

A major thesis of Whitehead’s book is the overweening drive by civil government to exert control over every aspect of the lives of the American people in the name of security. Although the book traces much of this from 9/11 and the huge security apparatus built upon the foundation of the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, Whitehead highlights the active role of government schools in conditioning citizens to comply and submit to even the most outrageous demands of government agents: 

For those hoping to better understand how and why we arrived at this dismal point in our nation’s history, where individual freedoms, privacy, and human dignity have been sacrificed to the gods of security, expediency and corpocracy, look no farther than America’s public schools.
…America’s classrooms are becoming little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens … the moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance:  they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed, and snooped on.
…Add to this the epidemic of arresting schoolchildren and treating them as if they are dangerous criminals, and you have the perfect citizenry for the Orwellian society—one that can be easily cowed, controlled, and directed.6

The examples given by Whitehead are chilling, ranging from a nine-year-old being suspended for “sexual harassment” after being overheard saying his teacher was “cute,” a twelve-year-old girl being arrested and handcuffed for doodling on her desk, to students being arrested, handcuffed, charged with misdemeanors, and facing potential ninety-day sentences in jail for participating in food fights.7

Zero-tolerance rules, which appear premised on the “war” on drugs, have resulted in near tragedies like the one suffered by the asthmatic seventeen-year-old Michael Rudi in May 2012. Rudi had his inhaler confiscated because a form had not been signed authorizing him to carry it. He suffered an attack and the nurse refused to give him the inhaler. When his mother arrived, she found him locked in the nurse’s office in the throes of a full-blown asthma attack while the nurse looked on and did nothing. Rudi recollected that the nurse locked the door as he passed out. As Whitehead recounts, the school district stood by the nurse’s decision.8

In December 2011, a ten-year-old aimed a gun-shaped piece of pizza at his classmates in a joking manner. He was punished by being forced to eat at the “silent” table for the rest of the semester and “to meet with a school resource officer about gun safety, and threatened with suspension for any future infractions.”9

Moreover, school districts are engaging in surveillance of students by RFID chips embedded in student ID’s, GPS tracking, and even through laptops that use video and audio to track them in their bedrooms at home.10

These examples, according to Whitehead, are creating passive, compliant citizens easily conditioned to become accepting of the usurpation of our liberties by civil government:

Americans are finding themselves institutionalized from cradle to grave, from government-run daycares and public school to nursing homes. In between, they are fed a constant, mind-numbing diet of pablum consisting of entertainment news, mediocre leadership, and technological gadgetry, which keeps them sated, distracted, and unwilling to challenge the status quo. All the while, in the name of the greater good and in exchange for the phantom promise of security, the government strips away our rights one by one—monitoring our conversations, chilling our expression, searching our bodies and our possessions, doing away with our due process rights, reversing the burden of proof, and rendering us suspects in a surveillance state.11

R. J. Rushdoony wrote about the fact that through the efforts of such thinkers as William James (1842–1910), the goal of government schools has become developing the “controlled mind.” By focusing on the inculcation of habit and its primacy over “family, education, Christianity, morality,” James fostered “radical conditioning” requiring “that power, however used, always emanates from the top down.”12 The examples above are chilling examples of such an idea brought to its logical conclusion.

The Book’s Solutions

John Whitehead is a civil rights attorney with a long and distinguished career fighting for freedom and justice. Details of the many cases he has handled can be found at the website of The Rutherford Institute.13 Based on his experience, he proposes several measures to use in the attempt to roll back the growing police state.

Whitehead includes a chapter entitled:  “Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them.” In it, he demonstrates the abysmal state of American’s knowledge about the Constitution by relating a distressing experience of the author and journalist, Nat Hentoff (who wrote the introduction to the book), when Hentoff gave a lecture on freedom to a small group. Hentoff wrote the First Amendment on a blackboard and a woman approached him afterward and commented:  “My, the law is really changing. Is this new?” Whitehead writes: “The woman was a retired schoolteacher.”14 It was obvious that this woman was incapable of imparting education to her students regarding their liberties as enshrined in the Constitution.

In addition to education, Whitehead recommends nonviolent civil disobedience and resistance. He lays out suggestions for effective activism. He ends with the observation that we are the agents for change:

Change then, will only come from a citizenry willing to step beyond the propaganda of fear and sacrifice themselves for freedom. Of course, government agents armed to the teeth will be there to chill and/or suppress the freedom fighters. But let us stand with those courageous enough to place themselves on the front lines for freedom.

Advancing Liberty through Advancing the Kingdom

As Rushdoony’s words quoted at the beginning of this article clarify, Americans should look no further than their misplaced faith in security through government as the genesis for the situation so graphically described in Whitehead’s book. Each of Whitehead’s recommendations have their place in pushing back against the growth of a police state, but without a renewal of faith and acceptance of God as Sovereign, and His law, the recommendations will have no sustaining foundation.

Education about liberty, resistance, and activism will fall short unless those using them are clad in the full armor of God. This means that any education about liberty should be imparted through Biblical law and Scripture. The conditions described by Whitehead’s book reflect the difference between applying man’s law as opposed to Biblical law, in that the former purports to “save man or to usher in a brave new world, a great society, world peace, a poverty-free world”15 as opposed to redeeming and regenerating man and culture in accordance with God’s order.

Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by law? (Psa. 94:20)

A major focus of this review is Whitehead’s chapter about government schools because he has rightly identified them as a major cause in preparing people to accept the tyranny of statism. Government schools are a microcosm of the rest of society where the intent and effect of humanist law is most apparent. As Rushdoony says about the purpose of humanist law:

Humanist law aims at saving man and remaking society. For humanism, salvation is an act of state. It is civil government which regenerates man and society and brings man into a paradise on earth. As a result, for the humanist social action is everything. Man must work to pass the right set of laws, because his salvation depends upon it. Any who oppose the humanist in his plan of salvation by law, salvation by acts of civil government, is by definition an evil man conspiring against the good of society.16

As is obvious in the above-recounted examples from Whitehead’s book, humanist law is enthroned in government schools. The zero-tolerance policies, use of police and courts to punish childish infractions, and intrusive surveillance serve the state’s desire for control over the individual child. This desire and drive for control over students by school districts extends to the behavior and activities beyond the borders of the school. In addition to the surveillance in the above examples from Whitehead’s books, school districts are tracking and punishing students for photos taken by parents of their child and his date to the prom holding airsoft guns posted to Facebook17 and playing with airsoft guns in their own yards before the school bus picked them up,18 and eating candy, mistaken for drugs, at home and in front of his school-issued laptop which was spying on him through the webcam.19

Given all this, one can’t expect that the proper definition of liberty will be taught in government schools. The first step toward reinstating liberty is to pull Christian children from them and to teach them that there is true liberty only in God’s law, a lesson they will never get in humanist government schools. As Rushdoony wrote:

Law is a plan for the future. To return to law which undergirds and establishes a Christian future under God, it is necessary to know His law and to know it well. The future we want is a future under God, not under tyrants. The law we need is a law which protects the Christian man in his God-given liberties rather than a law giving the state god-like powers over man.20

Without this knowledge, there can be no success in rolling back the abuses and statism described in Whitehead’s book. The activism suggested in the book, such as getting involved, taking action, being optimistic will be ineffective unless grounded in faith in Christ and knowledge of Biblical law and how it is to be applied. Humanist approaches will breed only more humanism which in turn degrades into tyranny.

A Government of Wolves is a valuable book in the fight against statism because it clearly identifies the enemy and the egregious results of statism and it is galvanizing to all who love liberty. Christians should read this book and then apply the law of God in the fight to which John Whitehead exhorts us, taking heed that it is only righteousness in the application of God’s law to every sphere of life that will deliver us.

In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. (Isa. 54:14)

Co-founder of Garlo Ward, P.C., Jerri Lynn Ward provides legal representation of health professionals and business in the areas of business, employment law, complex regulatory litigation and health facility operational matters.  She is also an affiliate attorney of The Rutherford Institute.

1. Daniel McAdams, Lew Rockwell Blog,, November 15, 2014.

2. R. J. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty (Vallecito, CA:  Ross House Books, 1984), 61

3. John W. Whitehead, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (New York: SelectBooks, Inc. 2013), 147.

4. Ibid., 60–61.

5. Ibid., 25–26.

6. Ibid., 185–186.

7. Ibid., 186.

8. Ibid., 188.

9. Ibid., 189.

10. Ibid., 189–191.

11. Ibid., 191.

12. R. J. Rushdoony; The Messianic Character of American Education, (Vallecito, CA:  Ross House Books, 1963), 110–114.

13. The Rutherford Institute,

14. A Government of Wolves, 219.

15. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty, 3.

16. ibid.

17. “‘Blown out of proportion’:  Dad defends teens suspended for posing with Airsoft guns.” FoxNews, October 29, 2014,

18. 7th-graders suspended for playing with airsoft gun in own yard, Fox News, September 24, 2014,

19. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District et. al, In the United States District Court For the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00665-JD. Lower Merion district’s laptop saga ends with $610,000 settlement,, October 12, 2010,

20. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty, 29.

  • Jerri Lynn Ward

Co-founder of Garlo Ward, P.C., Jerri Lynn Ward provides legal representation in the areas of business and commercial litigation, including complex healthcare and regulatory litigation, and health facility operational matters. Her background and prior experience also includes litigation work in the areas of insurance defense, employment, toxic tort, products liability, medical malpractice, business and commercial, as well as criminal matters.

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