Monday, February 26, 2007

The Finned Ones, Four-Legged Ones and Winged Ones

"What do they know - all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world - about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."

Isaac Bashevis Singer

About five years ago I went to a calf auction in the heart of New York State somewhere between Albany and Syracuse. It was early spring so the air still chilled to the bone and the sky hung dark and low. Everything was damp and muddy and a cold drizzle fell continuously from the thick dark clouds above. The auction was a compound of several wood-frame barns with muddy floors, whose red and white paint was peeling to reveal the rotten wood underneath. Trailers with rows of thin slits in the sides were parked in a muddy lot outside the barns. The calf auction was held inside the main barn through a small door in the back, past a narrow hallway in a small brightly lit room with a very low ceiling, a dirt floor and three rows of short wooden benches. On one side of the small floor space, to the left, were several very small doorways through a divider. There was a scale in front of one of the doors. The auctioneer stood on the side of the floor opposite the scale while a man in overalls took up a position near the scale. I sat in the last row of benches behind men in sports jackets who sat in the front row. From this vantage point I could see over the divider on the left. All of the doorways led into empty stalls with doors at the far ends that led out into the lot where the trailers were parked.

Inside the trailers were thousands of calves, born only the day before, waiting to be auctioned off to the dealers – the men in the sports jackets. Even before coming to the auction I knew the facts – that calves were a by-product of the dairy industry and that New York State, as one of the leading dairy-producing states in the U.S., was also one of the leading producers of calves. Dairy farmers had to fertilize their cows in order for them to produce milk and to inject them with hormones to keep them producing milk for as long as possible. But the calves had to be sold as soon as they were born so that they would not consume any of the milk. The very day following their birth, they are torn from their mothers' teats, loaded into trucks and brought to market.

The auctioneer rang a bell and the first calf was brought onto the scale and then pushed into the ring. It was a very small frail creature with bulging eyes and protruding rib cage. The hair on its body was still matted from the fluid in its mother's womb. It cringed and scurried to and fro across the ring and cried out. As I gazed into its eyes which were already yellow from malnutrition in the glaring light it occurred to me that something terrible was taking place in that room. The look in the animal's eyes was a fear so uncanny it made my guts tighten. It was the fear of an infant born only the day before whose sole experience is cold and hunger – the terror of a brand new life being ground into nothing. And while I began to panic inside as the animal cried out, the dealers in the front row began to kick and prod the creature with their mud-encrusted boots. The little beast tried in vain to avoid the blows in the tiny space but each way it turned it met another boot which pounded its hollow rib cage and sometimes knocked it off its unsure hooves. While this was happening, a string of unintelligible words streamed quickly from the auctioneer's lips until finally the man in overalls grabbed the calf by the neck, painted a number on its back and pushed it through one of the doors. This ordeal was repeated for several hours until the trailers were empty, when all the calves had been selected either for the veal farm or for slaughter. At the slaughterhouse the calves are ground into dog-food or frozen veal patties and there is no need to describe here what happens at the veal farm as enough has been written about these sordid facilities.

This is the role Civilized man has reserved for the finned, four-legged and winged ones – the animals. Animals are fair game. Man raises them for slaughter and even hunts them to extinction. And, since men are – after all – animals (we must eat, fuck and shit), one need not wonder at how men butcher entire villages, murder women and children and implement Final Solutions.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Gringo You Love to Hate

It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.

Mao Zedong, 1939

People hate El Gringo Rumbero? Believe it! Every now and again I run a Google search on my square moniker to make sure no one is surfing the Web using my government name to cruise for jail-bait or solicit assault weapons or narcotics (since, obviously, i never do that shit). This morning I ran my regular search and, lo and behold, my birth-name comes up on the "Pro-raghead terrorist and communist filth list" posted by some responsible U.S. citizen doing his part to protect the precious homeland. Okay so maybe some drunk adolescent Internet user from Indiana enjoying his first pickup truck with a gun rack blasting Christian Rock is not exactly what Mao had in mind when he wrote about "the Enemy" but hey -- I'm an Armchair Revolutionary!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

North America on ICE

It's been a long time… I shouldn't have left you… without a strong rhyme to step to

Eric B. & Rakim, 1987

A lot's gone down during my hiatus. For example: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been hard at work deporting hundreds of Mexican people who are in this country illegally.

You all know about ICE right?

ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). And, as ICE is charged with the enforcement of over 400 federal statutes, ICE Special Agents quite possibly possess the broadest investigative authority in the United States Government. Also ICE is the largest special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit that has ever been mobilized!

But why is the Department of Homeland Security, whose stated mission is to prevent and deter terrorist attacks, throwing so many resources behind an agency whose activities have little or no connection to "terrorism" at all?

The answer is clear: there is no terrorist threat. Why throw money and resources at an imaginary problem?

Okay but wait… if there's no terrorist threat, then what the hell is the DHS for?! The answer to this question should be obvious but many of us are too consumed by fear (fear spread by the DHS itself) to realize it. Think of the words "Department of Homeland Security" carefully. It tells us our home is in danger and we need this state institution to protect us. But we don't need it to protect us from foreign invaders since we have the Department of Defense for that. We need it to protect us from the evil terrorists! But who are the evil terrorists?

Consider that, in immigration raids now, ICE Special Agents are using the classic "darker than a grocery bag test" to separate the illegal from the legal immigrants. Moreover, in their press releases, ICE personnel have been equating illegal immigration with crimes that are much more repulsive to the public at large and that have long been associated in the news media with people of color -- like dope peddling, murder, rape, sexually abusing children and theft. Right now the line is that they are going after criminals and illegal immigrants but, given the Patriot Act, the terrorism law and the investigative powers ICE possesses, it is likely that the definition of a "terrorist" will grow increasingly broader.

In other words, the purpose of the DHS is to continuously create and violently suppress "terrorists" whenever the need arises, in the interest of ensuring the power of the state. That is to say that the DHS is nothing less than a terrorist institution. The most obvious parallel here is with the original terrorist body, the notorious Committee of Public Safety (Comité de Salut Public) of the Jacobins which presided over the infamous Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Both institutions use fear and violence to maintain order and, ultimately, to suppress dissent and preserve power. Another such organization that comes to mind is the Ku Klux Klan.

So when John Kerry says he "will hunt down and kill the terrorists," he is not only supporting actual terrorism abroad in the form of military interventions in the countries of Asia and elsewhere, but he is also supporting actual terrorism right here in the 50 states. It's time to recognize that the discourse of anti-terrorism in facts supports the biggest agent of terror in the U.S. and the world, the U.S. Government, which executes its reign of terror through the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and justifies it principally by racism.