(3 Feb. 2010)
Read “Domestic Terrorism or Tax Revolts” from the wonderful blog Orwell’s Dreams, on the burgeoning tax protest/tea party trend – versus domestic terrorism – and then proceed to the below article. They segway nicely because below is about the inevitability of the federal govt. turning it’s now vast anti-terrorism apparatus against its own people. Hey, that’d be more convenient than aiming at terrorists hiding in far-away countries, eh?
Janet Napolitano. She’s nicknamed “Big Sis”, after “Big Brother” – as in “Big Brother is watching you”. Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano says that the Department of Homeland Security will now be monitoring social networking sites to “provide situational awareness” in case of an “act of terrorism, or other manmade disaster.” The ABC News article says that the DHS statement offered 31 web- sites as examples but did not specify.
Does anyone see the irony in casually nicknaming a Department of Homeland Security Secretary “Big [Brother]”? Well, there is no irony, or very little left to go around, as it were.
By the way, if President Barack H. Obama had actually delivered even a portion of what he promised in his ’08 campaign, he would have abolished – that’s right – abolished the Department of Homeland Security! Obama desperately is looking for ways to raise revenue to fund the gargantuan federal government – how much money could be saved if this Department – much of which is just pork-barrel spending thrown atop needlessly layered law enforcement bureaucracy – were scrapped? It wouldn’t be difficult because the agency isn’t even a decade old and was created in a political act as a political agency . I think this is obvious. It is odd, because I dare say the majority of Obama voters in ’08 would have supported just this. But no, can’t scrap the dreaded DHS, we might need it! No, better to cut off the head of this snake before it grows a tail and starts to bite…
It’s uncanny the resemblances we are seeing to the Orwellian “Doublethink”. And now we get to “thoughtcrime”: read this article on the wonderful blog Orwell’s Dreams. The DHS making this announcement right before Google Buzz is debuted? And the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together. Essentially, if this blog is right about what Google Buzz does to a Gmail account, all Google has done is outed your email contacts for the world to see. How convenient! Easy as pie.
I was reminded again of our dystopic reality when news broke of a surveillance video from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel where three contracted security guards can be seen standing and watching while a 15 year-old girl is beaten and robbed. Our society has here taken the word “Security”, turned it on its head, and stomped on it (literally).
If Orwell were alive today would he say that the U.S. is living in a dystopia? Fairly likely. Question: if the security guards are not down in the Transit Tunnel and the other Light Rail stations for purposes of security, why are they there? In reality, they have shown themselves – and the government that pays their wages? – as an Orwellian, existentialist phenomenon with a shifting purpose. True, they may be seen as a deterrent; sets of eyes in a uniform who can radio the police if need be; but on the whole, these un-security guards are with us down in the tunnel for a psychological reason. What that reason is depends on the meaning we give it. If we are criminal-minded it might be that they’re there to intimidate. If we’re more concerned about getting victimized ourselves, than they’re a protective presence. But don’t tell me that their purpose is as “security”. We saw in the news that contractually, this is not the case! By agreement with the City, Olympic Security Guards are not allowed to intervene in incidents.
I’ve long thought that the Department of Homeland Security will one day, if it has not already, create more homeland insecurity, or un-security, than security.
Indeed, one of Orwell’s criteria for a 1984 society – perpetual war – came true on 9/11/01 when the Bush administration declared the “War on Terror”. Note the resemblance to the 1984 idiom “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia”.
A war on “terror”, or in this case “Terror” with a capital “T”, is little more than a semantic trick that either means nothing or anything. A very dangerous phrase because it’s a relative one. Anytime you can introduce some relativity into language, particularly language that has domestic and foreign policy implications as has this “war”, than we are trekking into realms unkown (or realms known but that we’d rather not know and are better off leaving to history…). Because, as has been ceaselessly pointed out to no avail, you can not “win” a “War on Terror” because if one is serious about using that phrase whilst at the same time accepting that an act of terrorism is not a specific country or political grouping, than you must accept that, again, it could mean either war on everything, or it could mean war on anything – anything those weilding the phrase want it to be on. Or both.
Actually, a clever interpretation here comes by way of Seattle anti-war activist Steve Ludwig’s “War Is Terrorism”. How’s that! “Is” with a red, capital “I“.