Subscribe

CI: A Dirge for Tucker, Torture, and Dirty Work

January 28, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Criminal Injustice Series, Imperialism, International Law, Military Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

A Dirge for Tucker, Torture, and Dirty Work

by Kay Whitlock

We all have our ghosts, the memories of singular people and events in our lives that changed us forever, in ways we still struggle to define with emotional clarity, and so haunt us still.

For the most part, these ghosts exist in the shadows of our lives, half-remembered more or less as we actually experienced them and half-invoked in service of personal storylines about who we wish we really were, who we think we are, who we hope to be – and, conversely, who we do not want to be.

The ghost I have been visited by most recently is a man, long dissolved into dust, probably tortured to death in Vietnam, having been responsible, in part, for the torture and assassination of countless Vietnamese people. His name is Tucker Gougelmann. He is the 78th person to be commemorated with a star on the Wall of Honor at CIA headquarters.

I knew him briefly, by accident or dumb luck, if you can call it that, in the years between 1972 and 1975, before the repatriation of (at least some of) his broken bones. I knew him not well but vividly. His very presence, by definition, was vivid.

It would be easy to hate him, but I don’t; I never have. My responses are much more complicated and have to do with a furious, searing, and ceaseless grief. He never really goes away. What am I supposed to do with him?

Tucker Gougelmann, on the right”

Tucker Gougelmann, on the right”

I suppose he rises again now from the miasma of the past to disturb my heart and spirit for several reasons. The first is the December 2014 release of the report on the CIA’s post-9/11 use of torture from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.   The second is the relative placement of two recently-released feature films, Selma and American Sniper, in the contest for primacy in the American imagination – the Academy Award nominations be damned.

The third is the powerful and necessary campaign for reparations for survivors of Chicago police torture.  Next are the seemingly endless pre- and post-Ferguson killings of black people by police, security guards, and vigilantes in the United States.

Finally, there is my personal, apparently never-ending, search to explore the question why the most massive forms of violence are so terribly ordinary and routine, and how and why so many of us refuse to recognize or care about it; why we let it go on and on and on. And the subsequent, essential question: how is it possible to transform such lethal indifference and contempt, which produces systemic violence, into structural manifestations of civic goodness and generosity? (That is a question Michael Bronski and I explore in Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics. )

And finally, it has something to do with my personal, apparently never-ending, exploration of why the most massive forms of violence are so terribly ordinary and routine, and how and why so many of us refuse to recognize or care about it. And the subsequent, essential question: how is it possible to transform such lethal indifference into structural manifestations of civic goodness, generosity, and community wholeness?

(more…)

CI: Some Thoughts on Language and “Industrial Complexes”

July 02, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Some Thoughts on Language and “Industrial Complexes”*
by nancy a heitzeg

I write a lot about the prison industrial complex. And I think a lot too about the power of language, of naming and claiming and all that entails. Recent conversations and observations have led to questions about the proliferation of “industrial complex” as attached to nearly everything. Savior (mostly White) Industrial Complex. Ally Industrial Complex. Academic Industrial Complex. And yesterday, i saw this: Anti-Aging Industrial Complex. In some ways, this usage makes perfect sense. These  “complexes” do exist.  There is a Non-Profit Industrial Complex, an Athletic Industrial Complex, and a Medical Industrial Complex too — a term I have often used myself.

Since we live in a society thoroughly dominated by the multi-national capitalist corporation ( the Supreme Court of the United States will not let you forget!), I suppose at some point it might be fair to make the claim that the entire damn deal is an “industrial complex” of some sort or another. An interdependent, interlocking mess of political and economic interests. Self-reinforcing. Self-perpetuating. Forever and Ever. Amen.

But if  we call everything  “an industrial complex”, then what does that mean for those devoted to the critique and abolition of the prison industrial complex and its’ counter-part the military industrial complex? Does overuse trivialize the deadly meaning? Obscure the scope of this peculiar power over life? And death?

(more…)

CI: Connect The Dots

June 18, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Eco-Justice, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Connect the Dots ~ The Pentagon, Paramilitary Policing,  Protest and You
Editor’s Note by nancy a heitzeg

CI has written extensively about the growing connections between the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex, replete wit the escalating rhetoric, weaponry and tactics of war. While this connection is long-standing, the post 9/11 War on Terror has increased the collusion, expanded the scope of  policing efforts  beyond “crime” and towards domestic protest, and criminalized/militarized non-violent activism as “terrorism”. This phenomenon is not exclusive to the United States, as noted in a recent report, “Take Back The Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World.” The report reveals a solidification of paramilitary tactics characterized by:

  • “pre-emptive suppression of protesters,
  • increasingly arbitrary use of advanced surveillance technologies, informants, and agent provocateurs, .
  • limited concern with the First Amendment rights of protesters and police obligation to respect and protect those rights,
  • limited tolerance for community disruption, limited communication between police and demonstrators, and
  • extensive use of arrests and force as a method of managing demonstrators. “

None of this is new or particularly surprising, but in light of recent news of Department of Defense preparations for controlling domestic unrest and the unabated flow of war machines to local police departments, it is perhaps worth considering the scale, scope and endgame implications.

We will leave it to you to connect the dots…..

(more…)

Revelations: Ohio

May 04, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Gun Culture, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex

The May 4 Shootings at Kent State University

Kent State Revisited

The Killings at Kent State

Honesty

November 11, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Gun Culture, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

CI: Militarization, Surveillance, and the Police State, Part 2

August 28, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Militarization, Surveillance, and the Police State, Part 2
by nancy a heitzeg

“It is white power that makes the laws, and it is violent white power in the form of armed white cops that enforces those laws with guns and nightsticks.”  Stokely Carmichael, Towards Black Liberation 1966

Or maybe with tanks and drones. Add a few officers of color too.

Carmichael’s central premise remains unchanged, but the technology, and perhaps too the scope of the dragnet has changed.

In recent posts – Tagging, Tasers, and the Police State, Part 1 and Unpacking “Chiraq”: Repression, RICO, and War on Terror TacticsCI has explored the deepening connections between policing and war, the alignment of those two deadlyindustrial complexes  of our time – prison and military. The connections are both literal in terms of the use of military technology, but conceptual as well. The citizenry as “enemy” to be  battled and defeated.

No questions. No quarter.

Of course, this has been the experience of communities of color since colonial days, but the rapid expansion of the technology of mass surveillance and the tactics of war have spilled out into the populace at large, threatening even those they were once designed to protect.

(more…)

CI: Unpacking “Chiraq” – Repression, RICO, and War on Terror Tactics

June 19, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Unpacking “Chiraq”: Repression, RICO, and War on Terror Tactics
by nancy a heitzeg

Editors Note: Wrote this one for my people at Prison Culture and Project NIA. Located in Chicago, a city increasingly labeled –  by both friend and foe – as “Chiraq”. This piece is a follow-up to Unpacking ‘Chiraq’ #1: Chief Keef, Badges of Honor, and Capitalism – please read it. It is brilliant analysis of how “Chiraq” is claimed in “elegies of survival” by those who live through it everyday. “Chiraq” is normalizing while pathologizing, glorifying while vilifying, the total link between domestic/foreign “enemies”.  Today we explore the latter…

What does it mean to call a city a War Zone? To write entire Black and Brown neighborhoods – and all their inhabitants – out of the United States of America and into a script that so effectively “others” them that they are now a foreign enemy state? What does it mean for public perception? What does it mean for police state response?

While the term “Chiraq” may have one set of meanings for those who survive Chicago’s high gun violence rate (see Unpacking ‘Chiraq’ #1: Chief Keef, Badges of Honor, and Capitalism), it serves to legitimate, without question, already solidified stereotypes of youth of color. “Chiraq” also links, per usual this violence to gangs. “Chiraq” implies that the already draconian domestic police approach to gangs is insufficient, and that a military response is now needed.

What other message could one take from the recent edition of HBO’s Vice Episode #9 Chiraq ? Where segments of a major US city are described like this — “The South Side of Chicago is basically a failed state within the borders of the U.S.”? Where viewers are blithely taken from Chicago’s Southside to then “hunting oil pirates in Nigeria”?

The lethal combination of gangs and guns has turned Chicago into a war zone. To see why the Windy City, now dubbed “Chiraq,” had the country’s highest homicide rate in 2012, VICE visits Chicago’s most dangerous areas, where handguns are plentiful and the police and community leaders are fighting a losing battle against gang violence. In the neighborhood of Englewood, we patrol with police, visit with religious leaders, and hang out with members of gangs – soldiers in a turf war that has spread into new communities as projects are destroyed and residents are forced to move elsewhere.

“Chiraq” means War. Literally.

(more…)

Legacy

April 08, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex, Workers' Rights

“Margaret Thatcher left a dark legacy that has still not disappeared..”

by Hugo Young, The Guardian