FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Global Guantánamo

by SOHAM PATEL

A few weeks ago, as I was standing outside Target on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, an elderly woman approached me and shared her life experiences in the Twin Cities. She told me something that has been troubling me since our conversation. I asked the woman how she likes living in the Twin Cities and her response to me was, “I grew up out here, but the city has changed so much, especially since the trash started moving in.” Now, I don’t know precisely whom she was referring to as “trash,” but her comment made me reflect on the racial dynamics of the Twin Cities. The use of the word “trash,” reflects a xenophobia which subordinates racialized minorities; this discourse, articulated by the woman, renders these communities “undesirable,” and therefore, “disposable”.

In a post-9/11 world, we have seen the rise of the security state within and beyond the borders of the U.S. nation-state. We have seen the reopening of Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) to detain “enemy combatants,” the growth of surveillance technologies, and the usage of drones to wage war in South Asia and the larger Muslim world. The War on Terror has established a paradigm to practice a “state of exception,” where the U.S. nation-state has the ability to suspend the law and make decisions without being held accountable for its actions.[1] Similar to how the U.S. state uses GTMO as a lawless site where the U.S. constitution and penal codes are irrelevant and thus, facilitates the torture and illegal detention of its “prisoners,” the U.S. nation state has effectively rendered, for instance, Somalia and Southside Chicago as “failed states,” or a space ineligible of sovereignty or personhood. Depriving individuals who live in these places their respective state and municipal sovereignty allows the U.S. national security state to operate in these sites to secure its own interests.

Chicago does not invest in schools, hospitals, or public housing in the Southside; municipal leaders cite budgetary reasons.  However, Chicago nonetheless has enough resources to continue policing the communities these investments would actually help and instead, has chosen to incarcerate its citizens and residents. Rohit Chopra describes Southside Chicago as “socially abandoned by being starved of resources but is then heavily policed, requiring additional resources from shrinking budgets for extra officers, gang task forces, and overtime costs.” Somalia also has a deep history of the U.S. national security state meddling in its domestic affairs. The U.S. has supported IMF-World Bank sanctioned economic policies that ultimately have impoverished the country, and thus, have been influential proxies in the resulting famine and civil unrest that continues to this day; additionally, the U.S. utilize drones to target and kill “terrorists” there and as a result, have but taken the lives of innocent Somalis. Thus, IMF and the World Bank operate similar to Chicago municipal leaders. They strive to privatize and limit governmental spending. In Chicago, the lack of investment has a militant arm as well—its police forces target and harm the lives of innocent predominantly black and Latino populations. In Somalia, the lack of investment, sponsored by the IMF and the World Bank, has a militant arm as well—the U.S. military targets and harms the lives of innocent Somali people.

The U.S. nation-state treats both Southside Chicago and Somalia to be “failed states” as a means of denying sovereignty to the members of these spaces. Rohit Chopra explains the significance of this denial in a post-9/11 state:

The denial of sovereignty has long been a vital strategy of colonial domination and the purported inability of subjected peoples to be sovereign (or to govern or rule oneself) a time-honored justification for colonial ventures…The post-9/11 security state continues this tradition.

The state continues to deny people of color the ability to self-govern. Instead, we are subjected to state-sanctioned violence at the hands of local police, the military, or vigilantes (read: George Zimmerman). As Lisa Cacho explains, “A person does not need to doanything to commit a status crime because the person’s status is the offense in and of itself;” the person simply has to exist in a racialized body or space to be legible and vulnerable to state sanctioned violence.[2]

Both of these communities converge in my new home: Minneapolis. The “failed state” of Southside Chicago and Somalia has driven many to the Twin Cities, where targeted policing and surveillance continues.[3] It’s important we recognize the role of the U.S. nation-state in creating such conditions for these communities. In doing so, academics, activists and people of good consensus can create new alliances and new forms of solidarity in response to the complex interplay of federal, state, municipal and transnational processes. I make these points to draw parallels across the geographical sites GTMO, Somalia, Southside Chicago, and Minneapolis. In a post-9/11 world, the U.S. national security state has normalized the detention, deportation, disappearances, and surveillance of racialized minorities through constructing spaces of lawlessness in places like Southside Chicago and Somalia, facilitating the act of purging those deemed “undesirable” into the U.S. prison system, detention centers, and GTMO. GTMO does not solely operate in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; we can also see it within our own borders and around the world in East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. We are living in a time where Guantánamo is, in fact, everywhere.[4]

Soham Patel is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota in the American studies department. The essay above originally appeared on the Guantánamo Public Memory Project’s blog.

Notes


[1] Agamben, Giorgio. State of Exception. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2005: 1-31

[2] Cacho, Lisa Marie. Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected. New York: NYU Press, 2012: 43.

[3] Yusuf, Ahmed I. Somalis in Minnesota. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012Top of FormBottom of Form

[4]Kaplan, Amy. “Where is Guantánamo?” American Quarterly 57.3 (2005): 831-858

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail