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Repress U, Class of 2012
Posted on Mar 24, 2012
By Michael Gould-Wartofsky, TomDispatch
Each DHS Center of Excellence has been founded on private-public partnerships, corporate co-sponsorships, and the leadership of “industry advisory boards” which give big business a direct stake and say in its operations. Corporate giants allied with DHS Centers of Excellence include:
*Lockheed Martin at the Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), based at the University of Maryland at College Park.
*Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T at the Rutgers University-based Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CICADA).
*ExxonMobil and Con Edison at the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), based at the University of Southern California.
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*Wal-Mart, Cargill, Kraft, and McDonald’s at the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), based at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
What’s more, universities have struck multimillion-dollar deals with multinational private security firms like Securitas, deploying unsworn, underpaid, often untrained “protection officers” on campus as “extra eyes and ears.” The University of Wisconsin-Madison, in one report, boasts that police and private partners have been “seamlessly integrated.”
Elsewhere, even students have gotten into the business of security. The private intelligence firm STRATFOR, for example, recently partnered with the University of Texas to use its students to “essentially parallel the work of… outside consultants” but on campus, offering information on activist groups like the Yes Men.
Step by step, at school after school, the homeland security campus has executed a silent coup in the decade since September 11th. The university, thus usurped, has increasingly become an instrument not of higher learning, but of intelligence gathering and paramilitary training, of profit-taking on behalf of America’s increasingly embattled “1%.”
Yet the next generation may be otherwise occupied. Since September 2011, a new student movement has swept across the country, making itself felt most recently on March 1st with a national day of action to defend the right to education. This Occupy-inspired wave of on-campus activism is making visible what was once invisible, calling into question what was once beyond question, and counteracting the logic of Repress U with the logic of nonviolence and education for democracy.
For many, the rise of the homeland security campus has provoked some basic questions about the aims and principles of a higher education: Whom does the university serve? Whom does it protect? Who is to speak? Who is to be silenced? To whom does the future belong?
The guardians of Repress U are uninterested in such inquiry. Instead, they cock their weapons. They lock the gates. And they prepare to take the next step.
Michael Alexander Gould-Wartofsky is a writer from New York City and a MacCracken Fellow in Sociology at New York University. His writing has received Harvard’s James Gordon Bennett Prize and the New York Times James B. Reston Award, and has appeared in the Nation, the Harvard Crimson, The Huffington Post, and Monthly Review, along with TomDispatch. He is currently writing a book about Occupy Wall Street. His website is http://www.michaelgouldwartofsky.com.
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Copyright 2012 Michael Gould-Wartofsky
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