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Michael Gould-Wartofsky: Class of 2012 Meet the Class of 1984

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Graduating from high school soon? Looking for a job in a high-growth field? Like working outdoors and traveling to exotic locales? How does $103,269 a year strike you?

At myfuture.com, high-schoolers are encouraged "to explore all possibilities and gain insight into" possible futures through "unbiased, detailed information," including data from the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Labor. "In addition to college admissions details, average salaries, and employment trends," reads an explanation in that website's fine print, "myfuture.com provides advice on everything from taking the SAT to interviewing for a first job to preparing for boot camp." Did you catch that last part? Boot camp. Which brings us back to that $103,269 a year job.

Myfuture.com just happens to be run by the Department of Defense and that high-demand job is as a "Special Forces officer." In 2006, the website notes, there were only 1,493 slots in that field; by 2010, 2,320. That it's an American job-growth area shouldn't surprise any of us. After all, in the last year, Special Forces officers starred in a box-office topping motion picture, gunned down pirates, carried out assassinations, and expanded their global war from 75 to 120 countries. No wonder it's been boom times for special ops officers.

Myfuture.com is, however, far from the only Defense Department website making a play for a young audience. There's BoostUp.org, with its "high school dropout prevention campaign," sponsored by the Army. (Which makes sense because, as TomDispatch reported in 2005, the military has studied what makes college students drop out and how the armed services can capitalize on that urge.) At the other end of the educational spectrum, the Army sponsors eCYBERMISSION, "a free, web-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics competition for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for state, regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community." And then there's TodaysMilitary.com."Young people need support as they consider their life path," reads its pitch. "This site aims to help them and their families understand service options and benefits so they can make informed choices."

"Military service is not for everyone," TodaysMilitary.com confides. "It requires self-discipline, intense physical work, and time away from family and friends while protecting America and its citizens at home and abroad. For some, these commitments impose too great a burden." But here's a surprise for those presumably too lazy, weak, or emotionally needy to do anything but go to college (what snobs!): they'll find a complete line-up of government agencies and national security types waiting to teach them (or beat them) on the quad, as Michael Gould-Wartofsky explains in his latest report on the state of state repression on American college campuses.

It turns out myfuture.com may really be onto something. These days, given that you may have to brave batons, CS gas, and Tasers just to get to English 101 -- and since officers in the Special Operations Forces need a degree anyway (what snobs!) -- some military training might come in handy before you head for college. Nick Turse

Repress U, Class of 2012
Seven Steps to a Homeland Security Campus
By Michael Gould-Wartofsky

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Campus spies. Pepper spray. SWAT teams. Twitter trackers. Biometrics. Student security consultants. Professors of homeland security studies. Welcome to Repress U, class of 2012.

Since 9/11, the homeland security state has come to campus just as it has come to America's towns and cities, its places of work and its houses of worship, its public space and its cyberspace. But the age of (in)security had announced its arrival on campus with considerably less fanfare than elsewhere -- until, that is, the "less lethal" weapons were unleashed in the fall of 2011.

Today, from the City University of New York to the University of California, students increasingly find themselves on the frontlines, not of a war on terror, but of a war on "radicalism" and "extremism." Just about everyone from college administrators and educators to law enforcement personnel and corporate executives seems to have enlisted in this war effort. Increasingly, American students are in their sights.

In 2008, I laid out seven steps the Bush administration had taken to create a homeland security campus. Four years and a president later, Repress U has come a long way. In the Obama years, it has taken seven more steps to make the university safe for plutocracy. Here is a step-by-step guide to how they did it.

1. Target Occupy

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Had there been no UC Davis, no Lt. John Pike, no chemical weapons wielded against peacefully protesting students, and no cameras to broadcast it all, Americans might never have known just how far the homeland security campus has come in its mission to police its students. In the old days, you might have called in the National Guard. Nowadays, all you need is an FBI-trained, federally funded, and "less lethally" armed campus police department.

The mass pepper-spraying of students at UC Davis was only the most public manifestation of a long-running campus trend in which, for officers of the peace, the pacification of student protest has become part of the job description. The weapons of choice have sometimes been blunt instruments, such as the extendable batons used to bludgeon the student body at Berkeley, Baruch, and the University of Puerto Rico. At other times, tactical officers have turned to "less-lethal" munitions, like the CS gas, beanbag rounds, and pepper pellets fired into crowds at Occupy protests across the University of California system this past winter.

Yet for everything we see of the homeland security campus, there is a good deal more that we miss. Behind the riot suits, the baton strikes, and the pepper-spray cannons stands a sprawling infrastructure made possible by multimillion-dollar federal grants, "memoranda of understanding" and "mutual aid" agreements among law enforcement agencies, counter-terrorism training, an FBI-sponsored "Academic Alliance," and 103 Joint Terrorism Task Forces (which provide "one-stop shopping" for counterterrorism operations to more than 50 federal and 600 state and local agencies).

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews (more...)
 

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