Difficulties Limiting Recruiters in Santa Barbara Schools—Even with a policy!

The military has an enormous budget for recruiting and pressuring school districts that limit recruiter visits….Vigilance is necessary. During the school year 2017-18 Truth in Recruitment (TIR) leadership and staff met with Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) school board members Ismael Ulloa, Wendi Sims-Mooten and Jackie Reid as well as Assistant Superintendent Shawn Carey on four separate occasions. We discussed implementation of the Exhibit 5125.1 Recruiting Activities in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and the continued problem of policy violations.

Rethinking School Safety in the Age of Empire: Militarization, Mental Health, and State Violence

Laura Jordan Jaffee - Syracuse University

In June 2016, Congressional Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives in an alleged effort to curb gun violence. While the move was largely commended by corporate media—even celebrated as a "civics lesson" for American schoolchildren in The Atlantic—,the legislation being fought for would have expanded the use of a notoriously inaccurate, racist and anti-Muslim "anti-terror" watchlist and done little to reduce violence (Richmond, 2016). This continues a long history of "gun control" policy in the U.S. that disproportionately incarcerates Black, Brown, and mentally disabled Americans by writing them as threats to safety and national security (Crenshaw, Ocen, & Nanda, 2015; Jilani, 2016; Coaston, 2016). 1 Responses to school shootings that uphold "gun control" as the panacea for reducing gun-related deaths subscribe to a liberal, non-violence framework that elides state violence and the structural conditions that engender individual acts of violence. 2

Calls for stricter gun control and mental health screening often come on the heels of school shootings, or they are justified by invoking national memories of these events. Such legislation is put forth as a necessary means of protecting the nation's (white) children through policies that criminalize people of color and psychiatrically disabled people, neglect state-sanctioned racist, gendered, and imperialist violence in schools, and reinforce ableist myths about who is "dangerous" (Crenshaw, Ocen, & Nanda, 2015). This paper asks how myopic conceptions of school safety circumscribe the imagined/imaginable solutions for fostering safe schools. I argue that a narrow notion of school safety derives from a narrow, ableist conception of school violence that pathologizes individuals who act violently and conceals state violence—particularly as it pertains to the production of empire—that manifests in schools. The very development and production of guns capable of such mass destruction—which liberal legislation seeks to restrict from the hands of Black, Brown, and disabled peoples—is a product of the endless war economy created by imperialist wars requisite for capital. 3

The militarization of prayer in America: White and Native American spiritual warfare

Elizabeth McAlister - Journal of Religious and Political Practice

This essay extends the literature on the militarization of everyday life to argue that contemporary military metaphors and practices have become a generative force animating the sphere of Christian prayer. The wars of the twentieth century and the corresponding process of militarization have affected almost every aspect of social life all around the globe, and prayer is no exception. In the United States, “the capillaries of militarization have fed and molded social institutions seemingly little connected to battle” (Lutz 2002 Lutz, Catherine. 2002. “Making War at Home in the United States: Militarization and the Current Crisis.” American Anthropologist, 104(3): 72335.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]: 724). Of course the Bible is full of violent battles and scenes of war, and religious actors have drawn on these images in countless periods throughout history (Niditch 1995 Niditch, Susan. 1995. War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence. New York: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]: 4). Today’s Christian militarization is simply the latest iteration in a long partnership between Christian missions and military expeditions, tropes, values, and logics. Yet in the twentieth century the militarization of daily life in the United States reached new heights and has expanded into new sectors, including research, technology, border patrol, immigration, humanitarianism, education, leisure, aesthetics, and fashion. It is time to examine how militarism has come to be part of the prayer practices of millions of Christians, especially in the charismatic networks that are on the rise across the globe.

This means examining side by side two spheres that are rarely considered together. In popular opinion, prayer is considered personal, holy, moral, beneficent, submissive, and even sacrificial. Militarism, on the other hand, is about dominating through force, and it is collective, violent, and combative, a top-down affair of highly disciplined and aggressive troops and their weaponry, funded and controlled by nation-states. Yet my research shows that prayer has become increasingly militarized during the last several decades.

The Pentagon Looks to Videogames for the Future of War

Nicholas Thomson -

The first real computer, the ENIAC, was built in 1946. The first computer war game appeared two years later. It was built by the Army Operations Research Office, and it was as rudimentary as you might think. Since then, the relationship between the military and world of games has gotten endlessly deeper. Veterans help develop popular games, and popular games help veterans recover. The US military uses games to recruit, and critics complain that modern war’s cruelty comes because it too closely resembles videogames. In 1997, this magazine ran a cover story about Marines modifying the game Doom for training purposes. This past month, news came of soldiers training with a system called Tactical Augmented Reality.

What if the relationship could be still deeper, though? What if, for example, the best game developers produced tools for the Pentagon? And then what if those tools ended up back in games? What if, instead of videogames copying war, war copied videogames—and the two things became, in a certain way, the same?

The idea comes from Will Roper, a Rhodes scholar in his late 30s with a PhD in mathematics. Roper runs the Defense Department’s secretive Strategic Capabilities Office; his job is to study where war is headed, and to develop the technological tools that help the United States win there. The military services think about today; DARPA thinks about the distant future; Roper thinks about tomorrow.

Playing War: How the Military Uses Video Games

A new book unfolds how the “military-entertainment complex” entices soldiers to war and treats them when they return


Hamza Shaban -

According to popular discourse, video games are either the divine instrument of education’s future or the software of Satan himself, provoking young men to carry out all-too-real rampages. Much like discussions surrounding the Internet, debates on video games carry the vague, scattershot chatter that says too much about the medium (e.g. do video games cause violence?) without saying much at all about the particulars of games or gaming conventions (e.g. how can death be given more weight in first person shooters?).

As Atlantic contributor Ian Bogost argues in his book, How to Do Things with Video Games, we’ve assigned value to games as if they all contain the same logic and agenda. We assume, unfairly, that the entire medium of video games shares inherent properties more important and defining than all the different ways games are applied and played. The way out of this constrained conversation is to bore down into specifics, to tease out various technologies, and to un-generalize the medium. We get such an examination in War Play, Corey Mead’s important new study on the U.S. military’s official deployment of video games.

A professor of English at Baruch College CUNY, Mead has written a history, a book most interested in the machinations of military game development. But War Play, too, lays a solid foundation from which to launch more critical investigations—into soldier’s lives, into computerized combat, and into the most dynamic medium of our time. 

Meet the Sims … and Shoot Them

P.W. Singer -

The rise of militainment.

The country of Ghanzia is embroiled in a civil war. As a soldier in America’s Army, your job is to do everything from protect U.S. military convoys against AK-47-wielding attackers to sneak up on a mountain observatory where arms dealers are hiding out. It is a tough and dangerous tour of duty that requires dedication, focus, and a bit of luck. Fortunately, if you get hit by a bullet and bleed to death, you can reboot your computer and sign on under a new name.

America’s Army is a video game — a “tactical multiplayer first-person shooter” in gaming lingo — that was originally developed by the U.S. military to aid in its recruiting and training, but is now available for anyone to play. Among the most downloaded Internet games of all time, it is perhaps the best known of a vast array of video game-based military training programs and combat simulations whose scope and importance are rapidly changing not just the video-game marketplace, but also the way the U.S. military finds and trains its future warriors and even how the American public interfaces with the wars carried out in its name. For all the attention to the strategic debates of the post-9/11 era, a different sort of transformation has taken place over the last decade — largely escaping public scrutiny, at modest cost relative to the enormous sums spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget, and with little planning but enormous consequences.

These “games” range from the deadly serious, like programs designed to train soldiers in cultural sensitivity or help veterans overcome the trauma of combat, to the truly outlandish, like a human-sized hamster wheel that makes virtual-reality software feel more realistic. There are even video-game modules that teach soldiers about the perils of sexual harassment. All told, the U.S. military is spending roughly $6 billion each year on its virtual side, embracing the view, as author Tom Chatfield put it, that “games are the 21st century’s most serious business.”

From "Gung-ho" to "Woke"

Isidro Ortiz |  Draft NOtices | October - December 2017

Editor’s Note: For this article, Isidro Ortiz interviewed Juan Perez, a Marine veteran majoring in sociology at San Diego State University. Juan will be graduating in May 2018 and plans to pursue a career in social justice activism.

Anti-militarism is often associated with the Baby Boomer generation. Thus, as the generation begins to pass, it might appear that anti-militarism does not have a future. Missed in such an observation is the emergence of a new crop of activists in generations X and Y. Juan Perez is one of those new activists.

Juan describes himself as “woke.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “woke” is defined as being “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.” When Juan describes himself as “woke” he is light years away from where he was at the time he enlisted in the Marine Corps during his senior year in high school. Juan grew up as an undocumented immigrant in one of the poorest communities, City Heights, in San Diego. In this community he attended some of the city’s lowest-performing schools. By his own admission Juan was not socially or politically conscious at that time. Indeed, he gave little thought to societal conditions and was “gung-ho” about joining the Marines.

How did Juan become woke? The roots of Juan’s woke lie in an incident during his tour of duty in Helmut Province in Afghanistan. While on patrol Juan’s unit spotted what appeared to be an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). In keeping with protocol, the unit communicated to headquarters, which in turn informed the specialized team charged with IED disposal. Within a short time, Juan’s unit was instructed to verify that the suspicious item was indeed an IED. Verification would require a physical inspection of the item.

Juan and a fellow Marine volunteered to fulfill the verification task. While this at first seemed to be the appropriate action for a couple of gung-ho Marines, it turned out to be more momentous than Juan had expected.

Juan and his fellow Marine approached the suspicious item. Verification, of course, required that the item be physically lifted and inspected.  Without stopping to think about the wisdom of such hazardous and possibly deadly actions, but in keeping with his tendency to follow orders, Juan lifted and inspected the item. He then returned to his post.

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