06 March 2016

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

The FBI has a new program to spy on high school students:
Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit horrific violence.

Based on the widely unpopular British “anti-terror” mass surveillance program, the FBI’s "Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools" guidelines, released in January, are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities. However, in its caution to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.

This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.

The FBI’s justification for such surveillance is based on McCarthy-era theories of radicalization, in which authorities monitor thoughts and behaviors that they claim to lead to acts of violent subversion, even if those people being watched have not committed any wrongdoing. This model has been widely discredited as a violence prevention method, including by the U.S. government, but it is now being imported to schools nationwide as official federal policy.


According to the FBI’s educational materials for teenagers, circulated as a visual aide to their new guidelines, the following offenses constitute signs that “could mean that someone plans to commit violence” and therefore should be reported: “Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious”; “Using code words or unusual language”; “Using several different cell phones and private messaging apps”; and “Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building).”

Under the category of domestic terrorists, the educational materials warn of the threat posed by “anarchist extremists.” The FBI states, “Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership… Violent anarchist extremists usually target symbols of capitalism they believe to be the cause of all problems in society—such as large corporations, government organizations, and police agencies.”

Similarly, “Animal Rights Extremists and Environmental Extremists” are placed alongside “white supremacy extremists”, ISIS and Al Qaeda as terrorists out to recruit high school students. The materials also instruct students to watch out for extremist propaganda messages that communicate criticisms of "corrupt western nations" and express "government mistrust.”


At the surface level, the FBI’s new guidelines do not appear to single out Muslim students. The document and supplementary educational materials warn of a broad array of threats, including anti-abortion and white supremacist extremists. The Jewish Defense League is listed alongside Hizbollah and Al Qaeda as an imminent danger to young people in the United States.

But a closer read reveals that the FBI consistently invokes an Islamic threat without naming it. Cultural and religious differences, as well as criticisms of western imperialism, are repeatedly mentioned as risk factors for future extremism. “Some immigrant families may not be sufficiently present in a youth’s life due to work constraints to foster critical thinking,” the guidelines state.
BTW, the science also shows that these programs do not work, but that doesn't stop lazy cops, and lazy school administrators, from using bigotry as a justification.


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