The Current Administration is taking us for a ride. It’s only been six weeks or so, but we’ve come a long way. Links are provided in the online version of this article. Let’s review the road markers along the way:
— A Muslim travel ban which their own State Department acknowledges to be worthless, which they wanted enforced without guideline or regulation, leading to chaos: the handcuffing of a six-year-old boy and American citizens asked for their social media passwords as they de-plane;
—The radical expansion of the definition of targeted undocumented Americans, a major increase in detention centers whose conditions are already inhumane, along with new sweeping powers for ICE agents, the possible conscription of local law enforcement into immigration enforcement, as well as the threat of the National Guard;
—The stated intention to enforce laws against recreational marijuana use, not trafficking or possession, under the long-debunked theory that marijuana is a gateway drug and leads to violence. This is very simply a method for targeting the black community. Very few white college boys will be prosecuted for possession, while police will be more empowered to pull over cars for minor infractions in ‘certain’ neighborhoods;
—The destruction of the DAPL protest ground, held by Native Americans, exercising their Native rights;
—Oh, and don’t expect any help from the Justice Department of Jeff Sessions. He’s already stated he won’t be providing oversight of local and state law enforcement, that the Justice Department’s own exhaustive report on systemic racial issues in the Ferguson Police Department, for instance, is ‘anecdotal’, and that police abuse is, you know, ‘just a few bad apples.’
Are we there yet?
And, even if we aren’t, can there be any doubt where this particular Vacation to Hell is headed?
Leaked State Department plans provide for more deportation camps on the border administered by the same companies who run the prisons where we’ll send those convicted on minor marijuana charges, even as State Legislatures across the country work diligently to find ways to criminalize popular protest. These policies are tantamount to designating large swathes of our citizenry as enemies of the state, and that’s not a thing even those in law enforcement want.
The governmental and logistical mechanisms that allow and expedite mass deportations are the mechanisms of a full and functioning police state. As ICE offices crop up across the country, with the travel lines, the holding cells, the detentions camps, connected in a vast network; as local, state, federal, and even (possibly) military troops become involved in this massive deportation effort, we create the full instruments of oppression, not simply for subsets of people within our communities, but for the communities themselves.
The broad scale harassment and intimidation of black and brown people has been announced, encouraged, applauded, and is now being implemented. It is not a pipedream, a threat, the frothing plans of a backwoods crazy. It’s the obvious and stated policy of our government.
And, it’s a kind of Cultural Genocide.
How often does the obvious need to be restated? That America was not, and has never been, the sole domain of White Men? That White Men were the first undocumented immigrants on American soil. The American Project was constructed by people from all over the world and each one owns a stake in it.
The purpose of these efforts by the current administration is to divide our communities into small groups, and to isolate, intimidate, then practically or effectively imprison them. This strategy works best in the dark, in the places it is rarely seen; it works best as a whisper, as a threat.
We need to make these strategies visible. We need to be witnesses. We need to be the public announcers of what happens in our community.
Already, as talk of sanctuary cities and churches begin, there are networks for alerting people to possible roadblocks, raids, heightened police presence. While these have their uses, they also promote fear and isolation within the targeted communities.
What we need is a system that draws as many people immediately to these sites as possible, not to interfere with police action, but as witnesses, observers. As citizens, in community with those being targeted. So that, these communities know we support them, so the larger world knows we do not agree with our own government, so our government knows that its actions are seen, are not passing unnoticed. Think of the protests at the major airports after the introduction of the Muslim ban.
We need a kind of telephone tree for the internet age, an Uber for political action.
The undocumented, the unjustly targeted, need to know we—the rest of us, those not immediately threatened—stand with them against these first foundations of a police state. We must remain visible. Law enforcement and our government need to know these extreme actions will not go gentle into that good night.
The White Nationalist strategy (let’s stop calling it Republican, let’s call it what it is) of the last twenty years has been to undermine our trust in government and democracy. White Nationalists do not want the government to work. They want something other than a government.
So, the White Nationalist Party’s Great Leap Forward into Totalitarianism continues apace. By this point, any Republican who has not abandoned this Party must be considered complicit.
Steve Mitchell is co-owner of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC.