Friday, August 2, 2013

Snowden White and the Dark Reality of Living Under the Power of the Surveillance Dwarfs

Remember in the movie Friday when Ice Cube got fired from his job for being accused of stealing some boxes? That's why he's hanging out smoking weed wtih Chris Tucker because they said he stole some boxes. And the whole film everybody's like "You got fired on a Friday? So did you do it?" and he's like "NO I did not!! But they tryna say they got me on video tape". It's bullshit but still he gets fired.

Now try to  you conceive of the enormity of what this  Snowden has stolen from the US government and revealed? I can't really understand the rage Snowden produces in me but I have to examine it especially since I've been writing about my family. I think it's the fact that he worked FOR the machine and then pulls this "Oh I'm so shocked routine".

But my family has BEEN under federal surveillance before; I had family members who broke federal gambling laws. The state I live in has a state lottery because they saw how successful my grandfather's operation was: they wanted to compete and beat the competition. But as always the government stiffs are retarded and don't know that gamblers don't give a fuck who runs the operation as long as they get paid fairly. They like to spread the money around so the state lottery didn't hurt grandpa's enterprise. In fact he made more money because he had a license to set up state lottery machines in his places.

So as a person who has endured that panic when picking up the phone and thinking "Are they listening? Am I going to get in trouble?"I can relate to Snowden's revelations all too well. No matter if you're calling your mama to say you're sick at school or she calls to tell you to bring home milk... THEY are likely listening. And soon you just accept it and live your life. You convince yourself that there's some justice in the world and yeah they may be after your daddy or your husband but you've done no wrong. What can you do? You either let the paranoia eat you alive or you just say ....Fuck it...I gotta live.

I haven't ordered my father's or my grandfather's files under the Freedom of Information Act yet. I can't handle it just now. But I know for a fact that it exists because one day while my mom was working at her lawyer's, as she went back to school for her paralegal license, an FBI agent came in. He noted her name and cheerfully told her that they had an inch thick file on one family member. Though he admitted that through their spying they knew her to be an absolute innocent.

You can't imagine the shame. The embarrassment. The impotent rage. To be violated in such a manner is so close to rape that it creates a dark paranoid fear inside that you never truly get rid of. To be mocked by a total stranger, a government officer of the law no less? You just learn to live with it. But it makes a dark anger inside you.

So I think that when I look at Snowden discuss the freedoms he presumed were his natural rights as an American I laugh. The men who wrote so eloquently in the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights were slaveholders for the most part and those rights were reserved for white male property owners alone. Had he attended school he might know that. He might have understood earlier that he had signed up to play the fool when he decided to work for the Man in the first place.

So on the one hand I applaud his efforts in bursting the bubble that the more naive and sheltered American mind may still function under,, but I feel angry and offended at his presumption as well. And why should I? Why should I care if the governments's illegal, immoral and unjust secrets are revealed?

It's not that I care about that. It's that I'm FURIOUS for having to have to endure such an invasion of privacy. And no one knew. You can't exactly go to grade school feeling down and tell your teacher "The FBI beat up my daddy." But that did happen though not when I was in grade school; it happened as my mother stood pregnant and watched as the agents beat my father in public on the sidewalk.   

And my experience is way way back in the ancient 70s and 80s. Now surveillance is slick and you don't find bugs like in the movies. The interwebs make things so much simpler. But back in the day they had officers whose job it was to mix in and infiltrate your family or your business or friends. Sometimes they were hardass gum shoes all about the job. And sometimes they were on the take. The full range of the government's nastiness   can only really be known to those who are thought to be transgressors in some way or non-conformists. My grandfather's gambling operation was a victimless crime after all: no one was hurt and a good many people were helped by those winnings from the Numbers far more so than they were helped by an economy that rejected black in the larger scheme. 

But don't be lulled into the Man's Myth on surveillance: You don't have to actually have committed wrongdoing to be targeted. It can happen to you. Look at the newstories that have begun to trickle out of people receiving visits from the Men in Black for merely googling about pressure cookers. They can come after you for merely being a non-conformist. For committing "crimes" that don't even have names until they write up the paperwork which can ruin your life.

 In this respect Snowden has brought a strange  justice. The government's sins are coming to the top and must be answered for.  

So Snowden brings up a lot of complicated emotion. I am after all an American. I am not proud that my country has done these terrible things to truly innocent victims the world over.  But I am also incensed by Snowden's tone of surprise, his gosh-darn-it-I'm-not-gonna-take-it attitude. My family and I couldn't run away to China and Russia. We had to deal with it right here at home, day in and day out,  innocent and guilty. 

To me I'm merely surprised that there is any surprise to be felt over his revelations. Come on, in your heart of hearts did you really think they DON'T watch everything? Did you?

I'm sorry for you if you did. And I hope you never have to find out how terrifying it is to live under the heat, under the perpetual light of unjust violation and criminal governmental abuse that goes unpunished or unchecked. Because if you still believe in the words on those hallowed documents, if you still believe that there is something to fight for and to be reclaimed for this country then you are a person of courage and conviction, and, perhaps there is still time to make a change.

I doubt it. But that's me. I'm a bit jaded on this topic. And I will never stop feeling the rage I'm sure.   

This is dedicated to my dear mentor Dr. Mark Naison. One who knows. 

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