Monday, February 20, 2012

Then they came for the Muslms

So now the NYPD is tracking Muslim college students way outside of their jurisdiction.  Not that it would be any better if they restricted their tracking of people going about their law- abiding lives within the NYPD's jurisdiction.  Why doesn't this domestic surveillance set off major alarms?  If I may quote myself: People who believe they are surrounded by enemies will accept strict defensive measures.  I'd like to update that to "strict repressive measures."   And refer back to the previous post.

Monday, February 13, 2012

First they came for the terrorists?

The FBI has put out a request for information to the tech industry about developing software which would let them spy on all social media.  The RFI is looking for "Open Source and social media alert, mapping and analysis application solution," but not a proposal -- yet.  Apparently, the government can already follow Twitter and Facebook posts outside the U.S., but in the ever-expanding surveillance galaxy, that's no longer enough.  (See my article in In These Times for some background.)  Cops need to be able to suss out "pre-crime" in the cybersphere to keep us all very safe. 

Well, I don't post anything of concern or interest on Facebook or Twitter, so I don't have anything to worry about, right?  Except for that dire & much-cited warning of the theologian Martin Niemoller:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Socialist.  Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."

Saturday, February 11, 2012


     Okay, anyone who believes that no one in a position to comment knew that the SS logo proudly displayed by a Marine sniper unit in Aghanistan had something to do with the Nazis, raise you hand.
     Right.  I thought so.  Let's move on.
     I don't believe that the guys in this unit necessarily share the tenets of Nazism.  In the photo that's causing the uproar, they look pretty young and may be ignorant of that era of history, though that's disconcerting in itself.   What I do believe is that they knew they were in the business of state-sponsored killing and wanted to honor themselves for that.  Marines enlist for a variety of reasons, but from the first minutes of boot camp, they know that they haven't signed up for a school outing. They may hope to make the world a better place, but what they're trained for is killing efficiently, without debate or second guessing.  Even Marines who don't relish that role know they may have to do it -- and by the time they finish their intensive and, I'm told, often tedious training, they're probably ready to put some of it into practice.  So this hand-wringing over association with a rightly vilified group of state-sponsored killers strikes me as yet one more instance of honoring image over reality.  I mean, what do we think snipers of any nationality do in Afghanistan? 
     Then there's the note, buried a few grafs in, that the photo had appeared on the blog of "a military weapons company."  For branding?  As a selling point and if so, selling what?  Nazi logos?  Or was there "no malicious intent" at that company either?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Occupy the brand

Read today a progressive opinonator writing that the Occupy movement is "a PR war."  Of course the political movement de jour would be all about brand recognition.  Why did I not recognize that immediately? And the occupiers have been successful in that, since I and everyone else seems unable to write a headline without riffing on "occupy."  Not to mention the very good 99% slogan.  So allow me to suggest another: The revolution will not be televised; it will be branded.