Sunday, July 10, 2005

Terrifying the Populace is a Form of Terrorism

The World Does Not Need a New Network of National Security States, argues Onyango Oloo....

* The first characteristic of a National Security State is that the military is the highest authority. In a National Security State the military not only guarantees the security of the state against all internal and external enemies, it has enough power to determine the overall direction of the society. In a National Security State the military exerts important influence over political, economic, as well as military affairs.

* A second defining feature of a National Security State is that political democracy and democratic elections are viewed with suspicion, contempt, or in terms of political expediency. National Security States often maintain an appearance of democracy. However, ultimate power rests with the military or within a broader National Security Establishment.

* A third characteristic of a National Security State is that the military and related sectors wield substantial political and economic power. They do so in the context of an ideology which stresses that 'freedom" and "development" are possible only when capital is concentrated in the hands of elites.

* A fourth feature of a National Security State is its obsession with enemies. There are enemies of the state everywhere. Defending against external and/or internal enemies becomes a leading preoccupation of the state, a distorting factor in the economy, and a major source of national identity and purpose.

* A fifth ideological foundation of a National Security State is that the enemies of the state are cunning and ruthless. Therefore, any means used to destroy or control these enemies is justified.

* A sixth characteristic of a National Security State is that it restricts public debate and limits popular participation through secrecy or intimidation. Authentic democracy depends on participation of the people. National Security States limit such participation in a number of ways: They sow fear and thereby narrow the range of public debate; they restrict and distort information; and they define policies in secret and implement those policies through covert channels and clandestine activities. The state justifies such actions through rhetorical pleas of "higher purpose" and vague appeals to "national security."

* Finally, the church is expected to mobilize its financial, ideological, and theological resources in service to the National Security State.

The Seven Characteristics of a National Security State from Brave New World Order (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

Dear Blog Reader:

Let me share with you an apparently useless piece of anecdotal trivia:

Last evening I arrived back in my adopted "home country" of Quebec- still a province to Canadian federalists; a nation imprisoned to French speaking nationalists- after a well-deserved two week excursion in neighbouring Ontario. This morning-make that four or five hours ago- having emerged completely unscathed from a non-eventful ride in the underground Metro with its vigilant subway cops on patrol at Lionel Groulx and other stops on the Green and Orange lines, I started strolling up University Street, unprepared for the sudden downpour and therefore unarmed with an umbrella. By the time I got to the intersection with Sherbrooke, the drizzle was threatening to drench me and wrap me in a wet blanket shaped from my own clothes. Just before the light changed from amber to green, allowing me to risk my life and defy the unpredictable Montreal drivers by presuming to cross the street, I heard a soft voice beside me ask:

"Would you like to share my umbrella?"

I turned to see a friendly South Asian face smiling at me, inviting me to cower under the shelter of a humungous umbrella. Walking up University towards Pine, we struck up a spontaneous conversation. To our mutual amazement, we found that we were both English speaking immigrants who had fled the stuck up bedroom communities of English Canada to put up with the mix of warm friendship and gruff xenophobia of Quebec's pure laine; we both had our start in community media with campus radio stations in southern Ontario; we both loved African-American musical genres; we both had years of organic ties with the McGill community-and we both spontaneously took to virtual strangers that we had literally bumped into in the street. My rainy "guardian angel" arrived at her destination a couple of blocks before I got to mine. We never introduced ourselves to each other nor did we ask for each other's contacts when we parted after our ephemeral encounter. But we had made a human connection which is now indelible in my personal archive of instant memories...

This chance encounter in a Montreal street is foregrounded to juxtapose it to the official fearmongering that is sweeping all Western capitals in the wake of the London bombing. Wherever we turn on our tellies- from New York to Windsor, to Calgary, to St. Paul, to Dallas, to Boston, to Jersey City to Oslo, to Stockholm to Quebec City, to Manchester, to France, to Stuttgart to Tokyo we see another talking head, a local variety of a grim talking securocrat or another mainstream politician instructing us on how to be forever suspicious of other human beings, to be forever vigilant, just in case we are the latest witnesses to yet another terrorist act on a bus, on a train, at an airport, in a playground, in a pub, in a cafe or in the lobby of our own residences.

We are not only being urged to get used to the fact that both Big Brother and Big Sister are ogling us all day and all night- we too should perpetually sparkle and twinkle twinkle like so many little spies for the state.

How many of us are aware that in the coded language of eternal vigilance the various Western states are sending subliminal messages to their mainstream WHITE populace to practice their racial profiling without a guilty conscience? How many realize that behind the mumbo jumbo of "suspicious looking characters" lurks a Muslim, an Arab looking person, even a Sikh from South Asia some of whom were killed after 9/11 because to the unwashed rednecks in Klanstown, Racist State, Amerikkka, a person with a turban was a "rag head" aka an "Arab"? Those of us of African descent subsisting and struggling in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago, Birmingham, Leeds etc are ruefully aware that we have been under surveillance for four hundred years; those of us who speak "funny" with our Third World accents know that we are watched by the ignorant eyes of our WASP neighbours who will surreptiously phone the cops when they hear a whiff of Baaba Maal, Maryam Mursal, Kofi Olomide, Suzanna Owiyo and Brenda Fassie that is unfamiliar to their soft-rock friendly Western inner ears.

The crime of

Driving While Black or Brown(DWB) or

being a

BMW(Black/Brown Man with a Wallet)

FWA (Flying While Arab) or WWM(Worshipping While Muslim) is about to be upgraded to Orange Alert with all the fear and terror of the so called "visible minorities" from the communities of colour that has been pumped into Western mainstream white populations by the

Chertoffs and

the head honchos of Homeland Security and Public Security Departments in the USA and Canada respectively.

There are of course millions of North Americans(including a chunk of so called "ethnics") who would rather submit to the benign terrorism of an omniscient and omnipresent state in the comfort that they will keep "the bad guys at bay".

And here is the rub.

When the "terrorist" is reduced to a caricature, to a cartoonish bogeyman we allow the real terrorists to slip under the radar. How many of the 19 men identified as the perpetrators of 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Centre had bushy beards? How many of them wore turbans? How many of them were attired in flowing robes? How many of them whispered eerily in thick, guttural foreign accents?

If we buy the story that these indeed were the hijackers who changed the world for the worse in September 2001, we have to assume that one of the keys to the "success" of their macabre act of terror was their ability to "blend in" and look just like everybody else.

Who knew that

Timothy McVeigh was the Oklahoma City Bomber? If he had stayed on the scene and helped with the "rescue" of survivors, he probably would have been interviewed on Larry King Live as a hero!

And speaking of a different kind of terrorism- the terror that rapists cause in women's lives everyday, who could have identified one of Canada's most notorious serial killers as a terrorist who targeted innocent women in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario region?

With his

blue eyes and blond hair and living in Scarborough- the stereotypical Canadian suburb- he did look and act as literally the WHITE Boy next door. How many people(I am addressing especially Toronto residents reading this) knew that Paul Bernado WAS the infamous Scarborough Rapist? His rape victims had described him in detail to the cops, yet the cops RELEASED him at least once before because he "looked so innocent". And how many people would have associated that

gorgeous bride in the picture with the sordid tale of Canada's most notorious female serial killer?

The question I am trying to pose here is a simple one:

When the government tells you to look for someone "who looks like a terrorist" what images are conjured up in your mind? Are you being told to look for someone who looks like yourself, your uncle, your aunt, your best friend, your lover, your co-worker, your neighbour?

Or are you being told to look for someone who looks like "them"?

And who, exactly are "they"?

One of Kenya's cabinet ministers came close to being strip searched when he was in the United States last year on official government business. Simply because he looks like an Arab because he does have Arab and South Asian heritage. For the Kenyans reading this, I am talking of

Mombasa's former mayor.

A prize winning Canadian author cancelled a US book reading tour because of constant racial profiling- because of

his South Asian identity.

One of

the richest and most powerful women in the world was recently blocked from entering an upscale European store because she apparently looks like a Morrocan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan and other "North Africans" who have caused so much trouble to this exclusive outlet.

I thought that


the discredited quackery of judging people's character by their physical looks- was obsolete. There is a reason why this junk pseudoscience of so called "physiognomy" is popular with RACISTS.Why then are we allowing state generated fears to revive this unscientific way of identifying potential mass killers in our midst?

Wherever we live, how well do we know our neighbours?

Is the affable man down the street a serial rapist? A pedophile? a future wife killer?

Is the amiable young lady teller at your local bank a closeted xenophobe who could torture an immigrant to death if she got a chance?

Is the gentle immigrant upstairs in reality a former notorious secret police officer from some expired Third World dictatorship?

And is the Muslim woman on the subway in reality, a fire breathing militant socialist and feminist who survived an acid attack in her home country because she rebuffed the bullying of religious extremists "back home"?

Is the Jewish man on the bus an exiled member of an Israeli peace movement who was once pistol whipped by orthodox settlers in a kibbutz in the occupied territories?

Is the White man in a Stetson and cowboy boots with the Southern drawl driving his truck while listening to Clint Black a veteran of Jesse Jackson's Operation Push?

Is the Black man bobbing his head to the beats of 50 Cent and Jay-Z a young Republican who voted for George W Bush in November 2004?

How could you tell from their LOOKs and ATTIRE alone?

Do you see how ridiculous this can get, in very short order?

In the wake of London's Saba Saba early morning nightmare(Seventh of July- "Saba" is Kiswahili for Seven) I was among billions of television watchers around the globe who were bazookad and cluster-bombed with earnest screeching sermons from- CNN anchors pretending to be security experts; former soldiers angling to be television anchors; politicians from every continent- all exhorting you and I to keep a close watch on our neighbour-who is presumably keeping a close watch on you and I.

You never know, we are now being told- that strange person on the bus with a backpack at his feet could be a suicide bomber traveling incognito; that cellphone nesting in that grandma's wizened palm on the subway train could be a remote control in disguise, moments away from triggering a smart dirty bomb three stops from now; that youth speeding across the park on his bike could be a courier with a deadly package- a clutch of grenades about to be flung into the playpen of the local kindergarten...

I exaggerate, consciously for deliberate emphasis.

But can you say "racial profiling"?

Consider these non-varnished factoids.

Here is an excerpt from a CBS news report:

When the bombs went off in London, New York City immediately went into high alert even though the mayor was halfway around the world. Today, the city pumped up security dramatically. It looked like a military occupation of midtown Manhattan.Soon after the bombs exploded in London, police flooded New York’s subway system.
There was no information that New York was being targeted. Yet machine-gun-toting police popped up on streets, bridges and tunnels. It was arguably the most intense mobilization since September 11th.


and this, from the Weekend Australian:

"We feel that, at least in the short term, we should raise the (alert) level here because obviously we're concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters.He stressed there was no evidence of an imminent attack but said the increased threat level was "prudent"."This is not an occasion for undue anxiety. It's an occasion for a sense of sympathy and solidarity for our allies over in Britain," Mr Chertoff said..

In the wake of the attacks, which shut down London's massive subway and bus system, Toronto Transit Commission officials issued their own rush-hour "vigilance notice," asking both employees and passengers to be on the lookout for anything unusual. More police were also been assigned to patrol the system.

Police surveillance was also stepped up across the subway, bus and train networks that service the Montreal area, though officials cautioned there has been no specific threat."Following the events that happened in London this morning, we immediately increased the police presence in places of interest, for example all public transport networks,'' Montreal police spokesperson Const. Anie Lemieux said.

An article posted earlier today (Saturday, July 9, 2005) at PresEsc makes the case that civil liberties may be the main casualties of the London terrorist bombings.

Alex Jones made similar observations in an analysis of the Patriot Act that made the Project Censored top of the charts a while ago.

Here is an article by Andrew Greeley that for some reason is no longer available at the Chicago Sun Times web site:

It's open season on immigrants

June 10, 2005


Ibrahim Parlak's big mistake was to want to become a citizen of the United States. Having been granted asylum 10 years ago and become a model of the "permanent resident" immigrant, he was active in his community in Harbert, Mich., and presided over a successful restaurant that specialized in Kurdish food on the Red Arrow Highway. (After my colleague Roger Ebert introduced me to it five years ago, I became a regular patron.)

The next step in the "American Dream" was for Parlak to become an American citizen. However, the gnomes who work in the bowels of the Office of Homeland Security not only turned down his application but also instituted plans to deport him back to Turkey. Going over the documents that earlier had won him the right to claim political asylum, they now found evidence that he should be sent back to Turkey, which didn't want him. Ten months ago, he was arrested and incarcerated. The immigration judge (an administrative judge, not part of the federal judicial system) denied bail because Parlak was a terrorist and there was a danger that he might flee the country. The judge did not say where he might flee to. Nor did she take note that the organization to which he belonged was only listed as a terrorist group long after Parlak had left Turkey.

Phil Rogers of Chicago's NBC station was the first journalist to call attention to Parlak's plight. "Free Ibrahim" posters appeared all over "Harbor Country" as that region of southern Michigan calls itself. Money poured in to pay his legal bills (and the phone bills for his calls to his family from the Calhoun County jail). The local congressman, a Republican, was uninterested in the case, but Michigan Sen. Carl Levin took up his cause. Eventually he became a national figure, his plight reported in a long article in the New York Times Sunday magazine. Nonetheless he remained in jail. An office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement predicted that Parlak would never walk the streets of Michigan again.

However, his lawyers appealed to the federal District Court in Detroit for a grant of habeas corpus ("let him out of jail"). Judge Avern Cohn granted the petition in stirring terms: "Petitioner is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. He has been a model immigrant vigorously asserting his right to remain in the United States. He is not a threat to anyone nor a risk of flight. He has strong ties to the community in which he resides. He is subject to an unreasonable period of detention pending the completion of removal proceedings given the nature of the case. Under these circumstances, there is simply no good reason to deny him his freedom pending completion of the removal proceedings."

Parlak has not changed since he was first granted asylum. The United States has changed. Since the 9/11 attacks, the endemic hatred of immigrants that has always infected this country has become paranoid. Every immigrant, in the minds of many Americans and especially public officials, has become a potential terrorist. Therefore it is open season on them to the bureaucrats in Homeland Security. Every new immigrant scalp they can gather means more points for their career advancement. Every immigrant family they can break up is another victory for American freedom.

The case of Ibrahim Parlak is a sign of just how far the United States has gone down the path of the national security state and to the fringes of fascism. Plain common sense should have made it clear that, whatever the technical details, he is an asset to the United States, a good member of the local community and provider of excellent food to an ever-growing clientele. In the world after the 9/11 attacks, common sense no longer matters, especially when one is an immigrant. The denial of bail for 11 months violated his rights under the Constitution, rights that in our tradition are inalienable. The immigration court in its star chamber proceedings attempted to alienate them.

Parlak is free now because of strong support from his own community, the publicity of his case in the media, and a wise federal judge. Not all immigrants are that fortunate.

Copyright © Chicago Sun-Times Inc.

Approximately two and a half months after 9/11 David Cole penned this op-ed about the National Security State in the US publication, The Nation.

Check out these comments by Muslim youth about the bombing that was posted on the Guardian's site earlier today.

Bottom-line is this:

The VERY WORST WAY of responding to a terrorist is to demonstrate to that same terrorist that they have in fact, succeeded in TERRORIZING and FRIGHTENING the CRAP out of you!

Why do Canadian and American women participate in the annual

Take Back the Night March?

To send a clear and bold message to rapists and other felons who commit violent acts on women that their terror tactics that condemns women to cower in fear and silence will not work.

Of course I am NOT suggesting that one should be lackaidaisical in the face of a clear and present danger.

For instance, only a very naive person will ignore a news report that there is a deranged maniac in a certain building mowing down every passer-by with a machine-gun. At times like this, it is foolhardy to play the screen hero or shero who calmly kicks the villain's butt unarmed.

That is not what I am saying.

I am saying that in societies such as Canada where fundamental freedoms like the right to walk around freely, freedom of expression, the exercise of one's voting powers and freedom of association and assembly are taken for granted, it would be a very sad and ominious trend if we rolled back those centuries of democratic victories which gave millions of ordinary people the right to a democratic culture- it would be a dark and menacing day indeed if we exchanged those rights for a throwback to a freakish fascist reality defined by all the hallmarks of a police state. For those of us who sought haven in Canada after spending years in maximum security prisons for daring to speak out against neo-colonial dictatorships, such freedoms and rights are things we do not take lightly.

Canada does not need to become the North American version of Idi Amin's Uganda or Daniel arap Moi's Kenya. The United Kingdom need not be the 21st Century version of McCarthy's America or Francisco Franco's Spain. And the United States need not be Dubya's Modern Amerikkkan Nightmare...

Enough Said.

Onyango Oloo

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