Posts tagged Jesse Walker

Just End It

Recently from Jesse Walker:

In practice, CVE’s efforts are already focused overwhelmingly on Muslims. But the big question here shouldn’t be which groups ought to be the program’s targets. It’s whether the program should exist at all. No matter whether it’s aimed at Islamists, white nationalists, or anyone else, the CVE approach has two big problems.

First: It rests on the idea that the best way to root out terrorism is to fight “radicalization.” This idea has support among both Democrats and Republicans, but the evidence supporting it is sparse. When investigators at the British think tank Demos (not to be confused with the U.S.-based liberal group of the same name) spent two years studying the differences between violent and nonviolent radicals, they found that while nonviolent radicalism can be a stepping stone to terrorism, it can draw people away from terrorism too. Meanwhile, there were other forces pulling people into terrorism that didn’t have much to do with ideology at all. Other probes have reached similar conclusions. So the focus here is all wrong: Radical ideas do not usually lead to violent tactics, and violent tactics do not emerge only from radical ideas.

Second: That focus can lead to some serious civil liberties problems. “Even though the agencies running the programs promised that they wouldn’t use CVE for intelligence purposes (as they did in earlier iterations of it), the program itself is designed to teach community members, teachers, police, social workers, and religious leaders to identify and report to law enforcement people showing signs of ‘radicalization,'” comments Michael German, a former FBI agent who now hangs his hat at the Brennan Center for Justice. So in practice, he argues, you get “soft surveillance,” and that surveillance “is intended to suppress ideas, which is likely to cause more problems than solve them. It encourages the identification, reporting, and ‘treatment’ of people with bad ideas, which will only lead to misuse of security resources and deprivation of civil liberties.”

Needless to say, that sort of surveillance can itself radicalize people. So CVE also runs the risk of contributing to the very process it’s meant to stop.

–Jesse Walker, Don’t Rebrand the ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Program—Just End It
Reason, 2 February 2017

Shared Article from Reason.com

Don't Rebrand the 'Countering Violent Extremism' Program—Just …

The question shouldn't be which groups the program ought to target. It's whether the program should exist at all.

Jesse Walker @ reason.com


Don’t Send In The Clowns

You are going to think I am making this up, that this is a joke. I am not making it up; it is not a joke. I received this e-mail at 2:03pm on Tuesday from the Auburn University Public Safety & Security Department. This is a straight-up copy and paste job from the e-mail.[1] It is possibly the most amazing thing I have ever received from the campus cops.

From: Auburn University Public Safety & Security
Date: Sep. 20, 2016, 2:03pm
Subject: Rumors of Clowns on Campus

Auburn University Community:

On Monday evening the university and Auburn Police Division received a few reports of people dressed in clown costumes on campus. There were also several social media posts that suggested the same. We have seen similar reports of clown sightings at other universities and towns across the State of Alabama and the Southeast.

Auburn Police officers were on patrol and immediately responded to the areas reported but were unable to locate anyone. Auburn Police will continue to patrol our campus and investigate any suspicious activity. We are not aware of any danger or threat to our campus community.

We also had a report of students walking around looking for people dressed as clowns. For your safety, we strongly encourage you to leave this job to Auburn Police. Please use good judgment and avoid wearing clown masks, as it could be perceived as a hazard or threat to others.

We urge our campus community to be vigilant and always report anything suspicious by dialing 911. If you have information or questions, you can call the Auburn Police Division’s non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.

Another resource that is available to students is the free Rave Guardian app. Features of this app include the ability to send tips and photos to Auburn Police or set a safety timer to allow friends and family to help look out for your safety. Get the app and register with your AU email to maximize the features available.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind you about the Night Security Shuttle which provides safe on-campus transportation and operates from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m. (while the Tiger Transit is not running). To request a ride on the security shuttle, please call 334-844-7400. This on-campus service is free to our campus community.

The safety of our students, employees and visitors is our priority and we will continue to do everything possible to keep our campus safe.

Over at Reason‘s Hit and Run blog, here’s Jesse Walker on the Great Clown Panic of 2016 as it comes to higher education and secondary education in Alabama.

Shared Article from Reason.com

The Clown Panic Comes to College - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Auburn University has issued a public-safety bulletin about the clown menace. Read it here.

Jesse Walker @ reason.com


The Great Clown Panic of ’16 began in August, you’ll recall, when children at an apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina, claimed to have spotted some malevolent clowns in the woods, sparking city-wide chatter about clown conspiracies. Before long, the delirium was spreading across the Carolinas. In Winston-Salem, two kids claimed that a clown carrying candy had tried to lure them into the forest; not long after that, in nearby Greensboro, a man called 911 to report a clown, who he then supposedly chased into the woods with a machete. (“Officers responding to the call could not find the clown,” the local News & Record reported.)

The meme[2] had marched into Georgia by mid-September, when two Troup County residents claimed to have seen some clowns trying to lure kids into a van, then confessed that they had made it up and were charged with making a false report. Last week a Georgia girl was arrested for bringing a knife to her middle school. She said she needed it to protect her from the clowns. By then the currents of coulrophobia had flooded into Alabama, where Facebook posts about the clown threat prompted schools across the state to go on lockdown, and where yet more hoaxsters were eventually arrested.

Now the Alabama wave has hit the world of higher education. . . .

. . . Amid this cascade of hoaxes, pranks, and schoolyard rumors—and possibly, at some point, a sighting of an actual professional Bozo on his way to a birthday party—there have been exactly zero confirmed cases of harlequins plotting to kidnap or molest children. But you knew that already.

Meanwhile, in the Lee County high schools, it looks like a teenager, allegedly a young woman at Beauregard High School, used the clown panic to get on social media and make threats of a school shooting, either against Opelika City Schools or against Beauregard High School or against Beauregard Elementary School. The Lee County sheriff said there is no evidence that the threat is credible, but Beauregard schools announced they’ll be under a heightened sense of awareness for the rest of the week, which means, more or less, that they’ll be swarming the campus with cops from the sheriff’s office; and Opelika City Schools placed schools on lockdown yesterday. The sheriffs office announced that they had used tracking technologies to identify, track down and arrest the female student allegedly responsible for the video (We used technology available to us to identify who she was. –Sheriff Jay Jones.) They will be charging her with felony charges for making terroristic threats. Meanwhile, people in the newspaper comment threads are more or less overtly threatening to shoot people for wearing clown suits, and newsmedia stories continue to relay reports of an amorphous clowning menace lurking in the shadows of social media and the dark edges of the piney woods:

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office isn’t the only agency in the area to receive reports of creepy clown threats.

LaGrange police took to Facebook to warn the public about several calls they received Set. 12 about clowns in a van and wooded area trying to talk to children. There were also threats made on Facebook media the previous weekend from “clowns” threatening to commit crimes at LaGrange schools.

Police determined that the threats were not credible. By Friday, they arrested four people who allegedly made “creepy clown” threats toward LaGrange High School.

Two were arrested in Troup County Sept. 14 after falsely reporting creepy clown sightings in Hogansville, Ga.

–Sarah Robinson, Hundreds checked out of Lee County schools following ‘creepy clown threat’
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, September 21, 2016

And in the superstore parking lots of Alex City:

Clown sighting at Walmart proves unfounded

Wednesday afternoon a customer at Walmart on Highway 280 called police to alert them to a person dressed as a clown in the parking lot.

The caller told dispatchers that she saw a male, dressed in a clown costume in an older model red pickup truck with a confederate flag showing in the back.

. . . Officers were dispatched to the parking lot, but found the vehicle empty when they arrived. They backed off and waited for the occupant of the vehicle to return. But when the owner returned, there was no white makeup, no red nose, no rainbow wig and not a single balloon animal. The man wasn’t even wearing size 24 red shoes.

After questioning the man for a few minutes, police left and the man went on his way, and was seen dialing a cellphone to tell someone what had just happened.

While this turned out to be nothing, Alexander City Police issued an alert via social media on the subject.

“We have received social media messages in reference to clowns posting threats on social media pages” a post attributed to Deputy Chief Jay Turner reads. “The threats have not been credible and as written in the article it takes a considerable amount of time to investigate the alleged threat.

“The easiest solution is to change your social media security settings and only allow those you know to post on your social media page; this will eliminate receiving posts from these fake profiles being used in this current fad of clown hysteria.”

Elsewhere, police are locking people up when they track them down.

After threats were made to schools in Baldwin, Bibb, Calhoun, Escambia, Etowah, Geneva, Jefferson, Mobile and Montgomery counties, there have been several arrests. A 16-year-old from Pleasant Valley, an 18-year-old in West Blocton, 22-year-old Makayla Smith and two juveniles from Flomaton and four Geneva juveniles, three students at Geneva Middle School and one Geneva High School student, have all been arrested and face charges. Several are charged with making terrorist threats.

–Mitch Sneed, Clown sighting at Walmart proves unfounded
Alex City Outlook, September 21, 2016

  1. [1]If you want some corroboration, here is the Plainsman story issued about “Clown Sightings on Campus” shortly after the e-mail blast was sent out.
  2. [2]Sic. There’s no such thing as a meme. —Ed.

Conspiracy Theories Everywhere

Shared Article from Washington Post

Sure, Trump loves conspiracy theories. So do his foes. - The Wa…

Conspiracy chatter isn’t an occasional interruption in weird election years. It’s a regular feature of American politics.

washingtonpost.com


. . . Even the most plain-vanilla presidential races are filled with conspiracy talk. Pundits speculate about secret deals. Reporters chase down candidates’ financial ties and look for quid pro quos. Activists parse speeches for secret messages — dog whistles — pitched at frequencies only certain constituencies can hear. Pretty much everyone acknowledges that such small-scale conspiring takes place. And pretty much everyone acknowledges that larger conspiracies are sometimes at work, such as Richard Nixon’s sabotage and surveillance operations in 1972. In each party’s base, rumors circulate every four years. Under certain circumstances, some of those rumors might find their way to the lips of campaign officials.

But which stories take hold, and why? While there are plenty of reasons the Russia theory would find a receptive audience, given the unpopularity of both Putin and Trump with large segments of the electorate, one element of these accusations may be especially appealing to Trump’s foes.

By linking the candidate to Moscow, this narrative suggests that Trump is precisely the sort of threat that he constantly warns against. His political rise began five years ago when he embraced birtherism — the notion that President Obama is a foreigner who has been hiding his origins from the public. The idea that Trump is a foreign pawn flips that script on its head; now it is a prominent birther who stands accused of uncertain loyalties. The Putin story invites voters to reject Trump on Trumpian grounds, a combination that could undermine the man’s appeal. But by amplifying anxieties about outsiders, it may reinforce a fear that isn’t so far from Trumpism.

Paranoia seems to require being imitated to be understood, Eve Sedgwick once wrote, and it, in turn, seems to understand only by imitation. Like a vast conspiracy, it’s everywhere.

–Jesse Walker, Sure, Trump loves conspiracy theories. So do his foes.
Washington Post, 12 Sextilis 2016

Saturday Lazy Linking

  • To-day in Anarchist history: The pacifist-Anarchist Gustav Landauer was martyred 90 years ago today, on 2 May 1919, when he was imprisoned and then stoned to death by soldiers sent on the orders of state socialist politician Gustav Noske, to crush the independent Bavarian worker’s councils and force the Bavarian Free State back under the political control of Germany.

    One can throw away a chair or destroy a pane of glass; but those are idle talkers and credulous idolators of words who regard the state as such a thing or a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The state is a condition, a certain relationship among human beings, a mode of behavior between human beings; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…. We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created institutions that form a real community and society of people.

    –Gustav Landauer, Schwache Stattsminner, Schwacheres Volk, in Der Sozialist (June, 1910).

  • To-day in Right to Keep and Bear Arms history: On May 2, 1967, 42 years ago today, the California State Assembly debated the Mulford Act, a bill to ban the open carrying of firearms. In response (since the bill was largely targeted at criminalizing their practice of openly carrying while on cop-watching patrols), the Black Panther Party staged a march to the state capital and walked onto the Assembly floor openly carrying rifles, shotguns, and holstered handguns. (The weapons were unloaded and were kept pointed either at the ceiling or at the floor.) Bobby Seale then read a declaration written by Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, urging that The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense calls upon the American people in general and the black people in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature which is now considering legislation aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of black people. After they left the capitol building and began to head home, they were surrounded by a battalion of cops and arrested en masse for conspiracy to disrupt a legislative session.

    NRA-approved, anti-gun-control conservative politician-saint Ronald Wilson Reagan was governor of California at the time all of this went down. When the Panthers showed up, Reagan ran and hid inside the capitol building. Shortly thereafter, he showed his commitment to the right to keep and bear arms by signing the Mulford Act after the state legislature passed the bill.

  • On government-backed traditional marriage, women’s property rights, and conservative mythistory-as-justification: killjoy, wreckage found floating (2009-04-19): daily dose of stoopid

  • On bottom-line principles for a constructive secessionism: Carol Moore, Vermont Commons (2009-04-16): SECEDE & SURVIVE: Prepare to be Overwhelmed by Secession

  • On Leftist anti-statism and the class structure of the State: Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-04-17): Shrink the State: A Leftist Aim

  • On assumed audiences and gender politics in FLOSS and web development: Shelley Powers, Bb RealTech (2009-04-29): Open Arms

  • On the literacy monopolists and popular writing tools: BLDGBLOG (2009-04-22): How the Other Half Writes: In Defense of Twitter

  • On Enron, corporate privateers and deregulatory rhetoric: Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-04-03): The Smartest Guys in the Tomb. Jesse mentions along the way:

    Leftists and liberals have a word for polluters who pose as careful environmental stewards: greenwashing. We need a similar word for times when the eager beneficiaries of the corporate state pose as free-market entrepreneurs. A word, that is, for propaganda like the Enron ad.

    Of course, I’ve promoted the use of the word privateering for something that’s roughly in the neighborhood, but privateering is really suited to a different purpose (it has to do with a critique of phony privatization, which is often bundled with, but not identical to, phony deregulation; and it focuses on the phenomenon, not the use of rhetoric around it). So, what’s your best suggestion for a left-libertarian counterpart to greenwashing, when state capitalist firms pose as free-market entrepreneurs?

    My own best effort, to date, is gold-plating. Thoughts? Comment away.

Failed state policy in Somalia

Here’s a short bit from Against All Flags a generally excellent Nervous Interview sort of article by Jesse Walker, on piracy, international government-to-government aid, imperial failed state policy, and anarchy in Somalia.

But when the troops pulled out, didn’t everything go to pot?

You’ve got it backwards. The U.S./U.N. intervention made things worse: It undercut local farmers by dumping free food into circulation, herded self-reliant nomads into disease-ridden refugee camps, and disarmed civilians while leaving the warlords’ stockpiles largely untouched. At every point during the country’s crisis in the early to mid 1990s, the most constructive responses came from the Somalis themselves. (The local Red Crescent Society was responsible for more successful relief than all the foreign efforts combined.) When the outsiders left, the peacemaking elements of Somali society were able to reassert themselves, with elders arbitrating truces between the clans and entrepreneurs establishing a growing economy.

. . .

Wait. Back up. America aided the warlords?

Yes. The Bush administration worried that jihadists were seeking shelter in Somalia, so it allied itself with secular Somalis, who styled themselves the “Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism.” They included some of the very same figures the U.S. had battled in the early ’90s.

How did that work out?

The warlords used the aid to pursue their own agendas, and the fighting ramped back up. The chaos pushed ordinary Somalis into the arms of the Islamic Courts Union, a confederation of sharia-based arbitrators that gradually took over roughly half the country, including the nominal capital, Mogadishu.

Displeased with this result, Washington backed an Ethiopean invasion and occupation of the country. This was supposed to establish a central government for once and for all. Instead it was a gory failure whose chief effect was to rip apart civil society and turn the country into a violent free-for-all. As Human Rights Watch reported in 2008, “the last two years are not just another typical chapter in Somalia’s troubled history. The human rights and humanitarian catastrophe facing Somalia today threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of Somalis on a scale not witnessed since the early 1990s.” [Ed.: That is, not witnessed since the last time people were pushing hard to get a government established in Somalia. –R.G.]

One effect was to push more people into desperate and risky ways of making a living. Such as piracy.

. . .

Let me get this straight. To combat communism in east Africa, the United States propped up a Marxist dictator. After sending troops to battle the warlords, it intervened again to assist the warlords. It did this about-face to stanch the growth of Islamism, but the effect was to put an Islamist group in charge of the country. And after Washington backed an invasion and occupation of the nation to end the Islamic Courts Union’s control, the result was a government run by a former commander of the Islamic Courts Union?

You can see why I’m skeptical about a war on the pirates. It’ll probably end with Obama dedicating a 60-foot statue of Blackbeard in the middle of Mogadishu.

— Jesse Walker, reason online (2009-04-17): Against All Flags: Questions and answers about pirates and Somalia

Read the whole thing.

See also: