Friday, August 15, 2014

Henry Giroux Explains It All

Henry Giroux shares clips of his recent appearances on a Canadian TV show to talk about his new book, "The Violence of Organized Forgetting."

You can watch both segments here.

In the first part, the interviewer expresses disbelief that American police departments are using tanks to make arrests. Hopefully, she's since recovered from her original skepticism after (hopefully) watching events in Ferguson, Missouri unfold.

For as Henry Giroux warns in the second part, regarding Canada's comparatively strong safety net, "There's a cold wind blowing from the south."

He could have been talking about the fate of Michael Brown, gunned down for the crime of being a BMW (Black Male Walking) in Ferguson when he wrote,
The war on terror, rebranded under Obama as the "Overseas Contingency Operation," has morphed into war on democracy. Everyone is now considered a potential terrorist, providing a rational for both the government and private corporations to spy on anybody, regardless of whether they have committed a crime.  Surveillance is supplemented by a growing domestic army of baton-wielding police forces who are now being supplied with the latest military equipment. Military technologies such as Drones, SWAT vehicles and machine-gun-equipped armored trucks once used exclusively in high-intensity war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan are now being supplied to police departments across the nation and not surprisingly "the increase in such weapons is matched by training local police in war zone tactics and strategies."[32]  The domestic war against "terrorists" [code for young protesters] provides new opportunities for major defense contractors and corporations who "are becoming more a part of our domestic lives."[33]  As Glenn Greenwald points out, "Arming domestic police forces with paramilitary weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a terrorist attack on US soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons."[34] Of course, the new domestic paramilitary forces will also undermine free speech and dissent with the threat of force while simultaneously threatening core civil liberties, rights and civic responsibilities.  Given that "by age 23, almost a third of Americans are arrested for a crime," it becomes clear that in the new militarized state young people, especially poor minorities, are viewed as predators, a threat to corporate governance, and are treated as disposable populations.[35]  This siege mentality will be reinforced by the merging of private and corporate intelligence and surveillance agencies, and the violence it produces will increase as will the growth of a punishment state that acts with impunity. Too much of this violence is reminiscent of the violence used against civil rights demonstrators by the forces of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.[36]
The New York Times noticed the same thing and today posted side-by-side photos on its home page to illustrate it:

Left: Ferguson 2014 (NYT) and Right: Birmingham 1963 (AP)

The latest news, after a night of peaceful protests when a more professional state police force took over from the militarized thugs, is that the cop who shot Brown last weekend had just been alerted to a convenience store robbery, and put two and two together when he saw the suspicious "BMW" nearby.

Additionally, there's been a bipartisan call from congress critters to demilitarize local police departments in the wake of the discovery that boys will play with the dangerous toys that the patrimonial Pentagon bestows upon them. Well golly gee willikers, and here they thought the kiddies would stash the hand grenades in their closets until the zombie apocalypse.

I'm waiting for President Obama to try to quietly quash any such reining-in, the same way he quashed the Congressional reining-in of the NSA last year. We'll see if our legislators take the bait when their own political futures are on the line. We'll see whether, in the words of Henry Giroux, we'll fall victim once again to the "violence of organized forgetting."


annenigma said...

Yeah, they hid those tanks and heavy weaponry really fast. Now they'll conduct a warm and fuzzy propaganda campaign (I think I read where there's a federal agency for that) and get the public to beg for the tanks and machine guns to come back to their new and improved friendly peace officers. A false flag operation should do the trick. Or an FBI sting of some homegrown (by them) terrorist operation. There's far too much money at stake to let the people lock the lid on that treasure chest.

And lets not forget those license plate scanners that police use (for what?) that can scoop up thousands of cars at a glance, unlike those clunky supermarket scanners. Have you noticed the bar code on your license plates? That info gets shared with the Feds too. Oh, and the voice recordings your bank manager conducts without your consent as part of the bank's security verification when opening a new account? That gets shared with the Feds too. Wonder why you got asked if you have pets? That question elicits a nice long voice profile in response.

That's why they need those Fusion Centers in every state and the enormous data collection center in Utah - that's a lot of information to collect and transfer from the locals to the Feds.

The tentacles of the National Security State are everywhere. Most we probably don't even know about yet. It's far bigger a problem than just the militarization of our police force. The octopus image that NSA uses on it's 'Collect It All' surveillance documents is an appropriate image for the entire National Security State. They do collect it ALL, sadly with the cooperation of local and state agencies and citizens.

That's exactly why it's so important to keep trying to bring this entire situation to the public's attention. The spotlight shining on the militarization of police is a BIG breakthrough and a great start to opening eyes. Citizens don't appreciate where the real threat to our Democracy is coming from and the loads of money surrounding it. I hope they're getting a hint now.

Excuse me while I go polish my tinfoil hat.

annenigma said...

Oops, I forgot to put 'Democracy' in quotes - there. That's another important point to make.

I also forgot to mention the Post Office is in on the action by scanning the outside of all mail and even the insides when/if you are flagged by the Feds for special attention. Any business or agency doing business with the Feds gets special instructions. They are all asked, if not required, to submit Suspicious Activity Reports to the Fusion Centers. Those Electronic Medical Records? Homeland Security grants helped with funding the conversion to those. Need I say more?

As with the Pentagon's 1033 Program - those given supplies, equipment, financial assistance, free software programs (EMRs), weapons, or surveillance toys have to USE them or LOSE them.

Pearl said...

Maybe if African Americans see through the lies of Obama, and what is happening in current police attacks and shootings, they could be the ones to find the courage of days past with Martin Luther King as their guide and start another civil rights march once more. Hopefully, their time has come again and should be supported strongly by leaders among them as well as other citizens and develop the courage to strike back via non violent methods.
Some of the left wing websites of black Americans are speaking out strongly. They and we need leaders to start the ball rolling.
How can we help?

annenigma said...


I share your hopes and I would join the movement in a heartbeat.

You know what's really bothering me lately? Blacks being referred to as African Americans. How many generations do they have to be in this country before they get referred to as Americans like the rest of us? Whites aren't called European Americans even though that's where nearly all of us came from.

Calling them African Americans makes them sound like they're only half American, with a dual citizenship in Africa somewhere. Africa isn't a race or a country. It's a continent. If you go back far enough, that's where we're all from.

So why don't we call them Blacks like we used to and as they used to proudly call themselves? Did they adopt this new label or were they assigned it by 'Americans' for some particular reason? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Pearl said...

I used the term African Americans because it is an ethnic description such as Latinos, etc. Black seems to immediately separate them according to skin color but if that is what they prefer, so be it.
I don't like any people described in a way that separates them from others but since there are definite divisions now in order to pinpoint the problems we have to use descriptions I am not happy with as they are loaded with emotional baggage.
But I think if the blacks in the United States can get some real leadership in place and get organized, they have real reasons to fight the system that is crushing them.
If Obama was any kind of a leader he could have supported and helped those we thought were his people, but I don't equate him with the black men and women now enraged by this latest killing. As someone recently said, he is a disgrace to his race.

Zee said...

More condemnation from the Right regarding what's transpiring in Ferguson at the hands of an overly-militarized, poorly-trained, small-town suburban police force:

“The behavior of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police in this matter is illuminating. They are ridiculously militarized suburban police dressed up like characters from Starship Troopers and pointing rifles at people from atop armored vehicles, i.e. the worst sort of mall ninjas. They are arresting people for making videos of them at work in public places, which people are legally entitled to do, a habit they share with many other police departments. Protecting life, liberty, and property — which is the job of the police — does not require scooping people up for making phone videos; in fact, it requires not scooping people up for making phone videos.

These confrontations are a reminder of the eternal question: Who? Whom? Who is to protect and serve whom here? Is government our servant or our master?

A police department habitually conducting its business in secrecy and arresting people for documenting its public actions is more of a threat to liberty and property than those nine looters are.”
(My bold emphasis)

The article is short and offers more commentary from the Right regarding protection of our civil rights from police depredations, so I recommend giving it a read. I'd copy it here in toto, but worried about copyright infringement.

Denis Neville said...

Pearl said “we need leaders to start the ball rolling.”

Yes, but with the awareness that it will be tantamount to an eternity of slowly rolling a boulder uphill then watching it roll back down again.

Nomi Prins explains it all by following the money, All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power.

It is a tad long, and pessimistic, but worth the time for its knowledgeable content. It is, of course, an entirely rigged political-financial system. Power alliances matter, so nothing will change for the foreseeable future.

Prins says, “Wall Street will continue to battle for fewer restrictions under the political guise of American global competition, while Americans bear the brunt of the consequences.”

“The most elite players in Washington truly believe that a small set of uber powerful banks and bankers, and not wide-spread financial stability or prosperity, is what gives America its global superpower edge.”

“How do we get out of it? I'm afraid things have to get a lot worse before that's even a remote possibility. Knowledge and anger is the first step towards a revolutionary-type of change. [but] There are hundreds of millions of Americas who aren't thinking about the issues we've discussed here; millions are devouring details of what outfit Kim Kardashian wore yesterday and how her butt looked in it.”

Bread and circuses keep the wheels steadily turning.

The propagandists make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

Without power there is little leverage for making demands for change.

“If there is any hell more unprincipled than our rulers, and we, the ruled, I feel curious to see it.” - Henry David Thoreau

Today resembles Marx’s description of the French finance aristocracy:

“Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the state, had command of all the organized public authorities, dominated public opinion through the actual state of affairs and through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Cafe Borgne to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society- lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauched, where money, filth, and blood commingle. The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society.” – Karl Marx, The Class Struggles In France, 1848-1850

The Democratic party’s collaboration in the looting of the American state…

“‎The party that leans upon the workers but serves the bourgeoisie, in the period of the greatest sharpening of the class struggle, cannot but sense the smells wafted from the waiting grave.” – Leon Trotsky

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Zee (and @all):

Thanks, Zee, for the links and excerpts today and yesterday from the right-wing media on the subject of militarization of the police. I wouldn't have seen them otherwise.

But the most important factor relevant to disassembling the militarized police state is not the coverage in right-wing and/or left-wing publications --- valuable though such coverage may be as a continuing reminder to the politically conscious of the danger to liberty of militarization. Sure, neither the right or left is monolithic (and therefore some ideological change of opinion may be occurring within those groups). However, the most important consideration as I see it is the transformation of opinion within the broad political middle.

So that makes proper coverage of the issue by the mainstream media vitally important. To effect a lasting shift in public opinion, coverage has got to be sufficient in 1) quantity and 2) quality, and 3) must last long enough.

The first metric is currently being fulfilled, as newspapers and other media are all jumping on the coverage bandwagon. Even Tucson's Arizona Daily Star, which I complained about here yesterday, today has decent front page coverage of police militarization, as well as (on an inner page) the full Wesley Lowery article from the Washington Post that described his arrest, and the WP Executive Editor statement. Perhaps that's actually not that surprising, as the issue has become too big to ignore.

But the other two metrics of coverage, quality and duration, are problematic, and are two big areas where the issue might --- almost certainly will --- be co-opted. Much of the public has poor knowledge of history, inadequate critical abilities, a short memory, and a tendency to distraction. The passage of time and eyeballs directed at television entertainment may do more to defuse public objection to police militarism than anything that the plutocracy may directly effect. Of course, one can't rule out a false flag operation, as @annenigma suggested, or the plutocracy simply exploiting a naturally-occurring event.

Kat said...

I don't know any black people that use the term "African American". I am not saying that there aren't any that do, but in my experience "black" seems to be the preferred term.

Karen Garcia said...


I agree about African-American. When abbreviated, it sounds like either a support group for alcoholics or an airline. Did you ever hear of the African-American Panthers? Or African-American Power?

My suspicion is that the PTBs decided to morph from Black to Af-Am because the former sounds so threatening to them. And well-meaning white people are so terrified of being labeled racists they go along to get along. I also, incidentally, dislike the delicate PC term "person of color". Sounds too much like "person of interest" for my taste.