Campus Police recently released a statement, distributed to all campus organizations by the Office of Student Life, requesting that organizations ban backpacks from events and post visible security in response to the recent national “orange alert.”
These “security” suggestions are ridiculous and inconsistent: Students are not asked to leave their backpacks outside of classrooms, yet if a terrorist threat were real in Santa Barbara, the classroom would be just as vulnerable as any public event, given how many people are packed into some lecture courses. The truth is the suggestions are not about security. They are local initiatives by authorities to implement the Bush administration’s national objective of capitalizing on the fear of the American public in order to weaken resistance to the military annihilation of Iraq and the extension of the domestic police state.
The Bush administration’s issuance of a heightened security alert on Feb. 7 is an attempt to further incite fear in the American public during the Islamic Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It is one more instance of the U.S. government presenting threats in racial and ethnic terms, whether it’s the war on crime or the war on terror. This latest incitement of fear linked to the Islamic Hajj is part of a policy of racial profiling, which scapegoats and targets people of color as barbarians at the gates of civilization. If the government were consistent it would also have issued heightened security alerts on Christmas and Easter in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
While we recognize that we live in a time of insecurity, we understand this insecurity is rooted in the policies and practices of the United States, its allies and proxies around the world. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. and its allies have overthrown democratically elected governments, supported and trained terrorists, assassinated political leaders of whom they disapproved and saturated the world with weapons. Insecurity today is the legacy of this history.
The pattern continues in the present. The incitement of fear and increased “security” measures will make no one safer as long as the Bush administration provides overt and covert military support to repressive regimes in places like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and the Philippines. A superpower dropping thousands of cruise missiles on a smaller, less industrialized nation already devastated by 12 years of war and sanctions will not stabilize the Middle East. Rather, these policies will ensure a future of continued insecurity and unending violence.
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals of the UCSB community, declare that we will not comply with the UCPD’s security suggestions for the heightened terrorist threat of early February 2003, nor will we be intimidated into complying with any such ordinances in the future. If the UCPD is really concerned about student safety, we demand it focus on hate crimes and sexual assaults that make people of color, gays, bisexuals, transgender people and women insecure. If the university administration is concerned about the community, we demand it do more to protect low-income families in Isla Vista from predatory landlords, racial discrimination and illegal evictions. If the university administration is truly concerned about peace and security, we demand it stop supporting weapons research on campus, cut its ties with the “defense” industry, speak out against UC oversight of the nuclear weapons factories at Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories, and divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Santa Barbara’s Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League, Nikkei Student Union, Green Party-UCSB, A.S.I.A.N.!, Voices 4 Global Justice, Honor y Orgullo Latino Americano (H.O.L.A.), Muslim Student Association, Queer Student Union, II9C, El Congreso, Student Action Forum on the Middle East, Students Stopping Rape, Show Space at Biko House.
The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League will host a discussion of the war on dissent tonight at 7:30p.m. in the MultiCultural Center Lounge. Please join us on this National Day of Action against the war on Iraq.
Tony Samara is a graduate student in the Sociology Dept.