Military personnel became “an adjunct to all police forces in the country,” the officer recalls; social and economic problems were redefined as “national security” issues and brought under the military’s area of responsibility. This is how uniformed military personnel became ubiquitous: People became accustomed to the sight of “uniformed military personnel patrolling their neighborhood…. Even the youngest citizens were co-opted…. [We have] an entire generation of young people who have grown up comfortable with the sight of military personnel patrolling their streets and teaching in their classrooms.”
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a bottomless fountain of foolishness, has proposed a measure that would permit governors to deploy National Guard troops to provide “security” at government-run schools.
“Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?” Boxer asked during a Capitol Hill press conference in the misguided belief that this content-free trope somehow constituted compelling wisdom.
She blithely stated that her proposal wouldn’t be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act (which was supposed to prevent the domestic use of the military for the purpose of law enforcement) because it would allow governors to re-purpose troops who are already being used for drug interdiction operations. That is to say, the militarization of schools wouldn’t constitute a new Posse Comitatus violation, but rather expand on an existing one.
Boxer’s proposal to militarize the schools could have been taken directly from “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” a terrifyingly prescient essay published twenty years ago in Parameters, the journal of the U.S. Army War College by military historian Charles J. Dunlap. This glimpse of a dystopian future takes the form of a long letter written by an officer awaiting execution as a traitor to the junta that has seized control over the United States in the wake of military disasters abroad and socio-economic turmoil at home.
“It wasn’t any single cause that led us to this point,” writes the condemned patriot to a friend. “It was instead a combination of several different developments, the beginnings of which were evident in 1992.” Rather than de-mobilizing at the end of the Cold War, the ruling establishment expanded the military’s mission overseas and made it an even more pervasive presence at home.
There is a sense in which Boxer’s proposal is redundant, since armed “warriors” are already deployed in countless schools nation-wide: They are called “resource officers,” but they are taught to perceive themselves as front-line troops on a combat footing.
“You’ve got to be a one-man fighting force,” self-styled counter-terrorism “expert” John Giduck exhorted police officers at the 2007 National Conference of School Resource Officers in Orlando, Florida. “You’ve got to have enough guns, and ammunition and body armor to stay alive…. You should be walking around in schools every day in complete tactical equipment, with semi-automatic weapons…. You can no longer afford to think of yourselves as peace officers…. You must think of yourself [sic] as soldiers in a war because we’re going to ask you to act like soldiers.” (Emphasis added.)
“Resource Officers” are not present for the protection of children; their mission is to intimidate them, and – with increasing frequency – make criminals out of them. A detailed story published by The Guardian of London points out that in 2010, police deployed in public schools issued roughly 300,000 “class C misdemeanor” citations to school children, most of them for trivial disruptive behavior, such as “inappropriate” dress and excessive use of perfume. Those infractions can result in fines, community service, or even time behind bars – and an arrest record that can ruin the student’s future educational and employment prospects. This is a splendid illustration of the “school-to-prison pipeline” in operation.
Although horrific mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School are vanishingly rare, “lock-down” drills in which SWAT teams conduct training exercises involving hostage or terrorism scenarios are increasingly commonplace. Many of those “hostage rescue” drills are better described as hostage-taking exercises, since they are used as pretexts for warrantless searches of lockers and student property.
Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande, Arizona, held a lock-down drug sweep on October 31. As had happened before in other schools across the country, the students were confined to their classrooms, then led in small groups to another room where they were forced to line up against a wall and be searched with the help of drug-sniffing dogs.
This exercise introduced a new element: Among the four law enforcement agencies involved in the search was a group of prison guards employed by the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest for-profit prison contractor.
Notes Caroline Isaacs of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee: “To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the `schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen.” Clearly, the similarities between government-run schools and prisons are not limited to architecture. Posting National Guard troops around government indoctrination centers, as Boxer proposes, would destroy any residual pretense that there is a material distinction between “schools” and “prisons” in what is becoming an undisguised garrison state.
Like most contemporary liberals, Boxer is a passionate militarist who swaddles her enthusiasm for lethal force in rhetoric about compassion and equality. She can call for armed troops to patrol “gun-free” school zones without perceiving any contradiction, because she simply assumes that the rest of us exist only to serve the interests of the political class and its enforcement arm. It is their privilege to compel, and our duty to submit to whatever they choose to inflict upon us. This is what Boxer and her comrades have in mind when they invoke “national security.”