• Spartan Considerations

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Let us go back, as we must, to the Beginning.

It was March 1, 2003, 50 Cent’s single “In da Club” just reached the top of the charts. Daredevil, the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Garner vehicle no one asked for, was wrapping up its box office run at #1. Aaron Sorkin was still writing episodes of The West Wing.

The United States was less than three weeks away from launching “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

As part of the massive expansion of the national security apparatus (and the enhanced police state powers of a combined governmental-military-industrial nexus) following 9/11, The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was brought into being.

ICE is now 17 years old, older than many of the children ICE has held in cages. One must ask the fundamental question: Why does ICE exist?

The current activities of this agency seem far-removed from the original foci of engaging in counterterrorism and handling “threats to our national security,” especially as understood in the context of the times in which it was created.

Now, ICE could best be described as a tool of a lawless Administration, an ungloved fist thrown at whoever the Trump Clique considers an enemy-of-the-state (which appears to be an over-growing list). ICE’s own numbers, reported upon by the Brennan Center, reveal that “the number of ICE arrests has increased, rising 42 percent between 2016 and 2017.” U.S. citizens are being detained, trapped in a legal and administrative limbo and, in many cases, for extended periods of time. Legal residents are being arrested by ICE over old misdemeanors. And, as is typical in ethnostates, racial and ethnic minority communities, our neighbors, are being targeted. ICE’s tactics include kidnappings, of adults as well as children (see also: forced family separation). These actions have caused extreme hardships for the families impacted, financial as well as emotional.

Who is the real threat to our national security?

The Howard County detention center can and should be closed. There is no question that its presence represents a moral blight in our midst. And it is critical to consider the human impact on all those who are held in this facility.

As long as this corrupt system allows the existence of ICE, and provides this agency with the ability to shift the people they hold from one facility to another, often exercising police powers or collaborating with other law enforcement agencies to work-around regulations that limit their scope of authority, then one must also ask the question: If we oppose what ICE is doing, what is the best expenditure of our time, energy, and resources directed at ending it?

Yes, it would feel good to shut down the Howard County detention center. Yes, the people who are calling for that are overwhelmingly honorable and well-intentioned members of our community. Yes, our public officials should sit down and listen to those who are advocating for the cancellation of the contract. And yes, shutting the center down would be a good thing to do.

But it cannot stop there.

How long-lived would that closure catharsis be once it was realized that the people held there would be shipped off to another locale where it is altogether possible they would face even worse treatment and/or even more challenging living conditions? As long as the agency exists, given oxygen by an inhumane system, closing down one detention center as an “ICE prison” would be a minor and (from the perspective of those held there) perhaps Pyrrhic victory.

While I stand in support of the principles articulated by those who want to terminate the Howard County - ICE contract, I believe a more effective strategy would be to go after more than a single TIE fighter and focus on the Death Star itself. ICE should be abolished. That approach offers the best prospect for a long-term and far-ranging solution to the bigger problem, which is not a single building access issue but the very existence of ICE and the organizations, individuals, and mindsets that allow ICE to terrorize local communities.

In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Until recently, the only famous Chaz’s were Bono and (albeit with an extra “z”) Palminteri.

Now, we have CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington. Although it also goes by CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) as well as other names.

Several of the causes espoused by many denizens of the Zone are admirable and righteous, including but not limited to combating police brutality and other criminal justice reform proposals as well as greater funding for social services investments (such as community health).

The overall political outlook of the Zone is broadly anti-fascist. And (according to news accounts), while democratic socialists are on the scene, it seems to the present author (based on those same accounts), that the protest/micro-polity is more animated by anarchist principles (see: Peter Kropotkin).

From what I can tell, most of the protestors seem like sincere and committed activists.

At the risk of being accused of (gasp) concern trolling, I nonetheless find myself wondering:

  • What are the possibilities of this protest being co-opted or undermined by bad actors (such as dilettantes, fame-seekers, profiteers, grifters, criminals, and/or state agents)?

  • Is this form of protest expending valuable organizing time, energy, and resources in the most efficient and effective way possible?

  • Is this method of protest sustainable? Is this about building a movement or just living a moment?

  • Will the desired outcome(s) be realized?

I am, of course, hopeful that such CHAZ-style protests will help bring about positive changes to the country. Yet knowing the forces arrayed against them, I recognize that enthusiasm and good intentions are not enough to win.

In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

A member of the Howard County blogging community has come under attack. No, not the usual “you are an idiot,” criticisms which all public affairs bloggers invariably face. These are vile, sexist (often sexually explicit), and personally invasive assaults involving both words and deeds. Perhaps even more frightening is that these attacks, which largely center on misogynistic tropes and stereotypes, are being applauded in public fora. Beyond that, some commenters choose to ignore or discount these hostile statements, choosing instead to word-police how she responds to these outrageous remarks.

By she, I am referring to the author of the Howard County Progress Report. Note: I believe it is important to disclose that I am using this identifying information with her express permission. While relatively new to the blogging world, she has already established herself as a significant influence on the local political scene…including publishing a piece that had a major impact on a Board of Education race.

Recently, she has been subject to a particularly horrifying strain of vituperation that has included:

  • Insinuations as well as unambiguous claims that she is “mentally ill”

  • Denunciations of her as having “a lot of unresolved anger”

  • The use of profane and, at times, obscene epithets directed at her (by both men and women)

  • Remarks and actions that delivered the message “we know where you live”

There is absolutely no place for this in civilized society. And, for as much as people talk about Howard County in almost triumphalist terms, there is certainly no place for this misogynistic hate in our community.

Now, is anyone going to be shamed (by name) in this blog today? Not today, no. That said, rest assured that screen grabs have been taken. And the present author has no qualms whatsoever about sharing said screen grabs with the public. It seems like some of you are very proud of your statements, so I am certain you would have no issues if they were signal boosted on multiple platforms and/or sent out widely via email to interested parties.

In short, stop the nonsense or face the consequences. Imagine if you said those same words to her, or anyone, in person…you don’t think there would be repercussions? Think about that.

One last thing, if you believe that someone defending themselves from such abuse is somehow a voice that is “negative” or “nasty”, maybe you should stow your laptop and retire from commenting while you reflect on the idiocy of your statements.

In solidarity.

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