Why We Must #AbolishICE (While We Can)

The chaos surrounding the concentration camps of immigrants, from the lack of documentation, not knowing where a given child is, the crazy news conferences, the flip-flops, all serve the purpose of muddying the water and hiding what’s really going on, organizationally. Hannah Arendt describes concentration camps as “laboratories in the experiment of total domination,” experiments in just what is possible, and how far they can go. In other words, it is an attempt to see how much they can do and how long they can do it.

In totalitarian regimes, total domination is achieved with onion-like layers of military policing, with the innermost layers being dominated by the hardcore “elite” believers. The Gestapo was such an organization. Outer layers were filled with movement sympathizers, who presented a more acceptable public face to the doings of the government. The Totalitarian movement continues to add inner layers over time, producing a constant churn of organizations and moving the core believers further inside the structure.

In the U.S. right now, the outermost layer of policing is our increasingly militarized community police force, but you don’t have to look far to see that “shadow power,” as it were, has been relegated to other organizations for years for darker purposes. The CIA, the NSA, and the FBI are just as likely to spy on or murder U.S. citizens as anyone else. But now we see a deliberate attempt to grant extraConstitutional powers to another relatively new (since 2003) organization: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The sorts of powers that ICE has been granted, officially or not, while nominally to do with enforcing immigration law, is more appropriately described as the having ability to do whatever they like with “stateless” peoples who happen into their clutches for whatever reason. Legal rights only apply to citizens, and entire swaths of people have been decreed to be without any rights whatsoever, including the right to stay with their own children.

It’s important, as well, to understand how big a role the U.S. military is now playing in all of this. Many of these “rightless” peoples are being held on military bases, in God only knows what kinds of conditions, since so few people are allowed to view or record what is happening. The military is another layer in the onion, behind our local police forces. It would appear that ICE is now the group deeper within the onion, behind the military, and it is wielding power that should terrify anyone who believes in “liberty” or our constitution. In other words, I fear that ICE is gradually becoming the new Gestapo.

Aiding the chaotic churn that marks all totalitarian governments, to keep everyone off balance, Trump has recently announced the creation of a “Space Force.” To many on the left, this is a joke. But it is possible that this is either another “front organization” to hide the inner layers of the onion, or possibly a new inner layer itself, which hides behind its ridiculous name. Pay careful attention to the reorganization of government departments now, because they can and will create new centers of “true believers” with benign sounding names.

Beware assigning terms like “incompetence” and “stupidity” to what is going on with Trump’s government. The outward appearance of incompetence aids the world in magical thinking and denial, while making it all the easier to make people disappear as though they never existed. If nothing is documented, if there is no “system” to track children, then who can prove they were ever here?

For a considerable length of time the normality of the normal world is the most efficient protection against disclosure of totalitarian mass crimes. “Normal men don’t know that everything is possible,” refuse to believe their eyes and ears in the face of the monstrous, just as the mass men did not trust theirs in the face of a normal reality in which no place was left for them. The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside nontotalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges also in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity just as much as the masses do in the face of the normal world. This common-sense disinclination to believe the monstrous is constantly strengthened by the totalitarian ruler himself, who makes sure that no reliable statistics, no controllable facts and figures are ever published, so that there are only subjective, uncontrollable, and unreliable reports about the places of the living dead.

Congress must do the right thing and abolish ICE now — while they can.

Children in American camps

Writer, painter, cat fancier, troublemaker, democratic socialist, & antifascist.

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