Tomorrow, July 12, 2019, under the banner of Lights for Liberty, thousands of people across the country and across the world will be participating in vigils at American concentration camps run by ICE, protesting the murderous treatment of the prisoners held there. You can find an event near you here. There are any number of serious reasons to abolish ICE, you can even ask ICE agents about it.
And one of these reasons is that the very existence of this organization, which is empowered to lock people up and torture them on the barest suspicion that they’re somehow violating immigration laws, incites people to use that power to further their personal goals. Under the original Nazis concentration camps were not only a tool of state terror but were used regularly by ordinary people to settle entirely non-political grudges with their neighbors.
The very existence of the capability creates the irresistible urge to use it. The blade itself incites to violence.1 This behavior was so commonplace and so problematic for various reasons that there’s a term for those who engage in it, they’re grudge informers. As Colleen Murphy puts it in her fine book The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice:
The term “grudge informers” refers to individuals who, during periods of conflict or repression, report personal enemies to authorities in order to get rid of them.2
Now, I’m not interested in rehashing the endlessly stupid discussions about the appropriacy of comparisons of ICE concentration camps to Nazi concentration camps nor, obviously, the appropriacy of the term “concentration camp” to refer to them. If it strikes you that there are two legitimate sides to that debate, you can go here and talk about it to your heart’s content.
I am, however, interested in talking about public records. In this case, a set of emails I obtained from the office of Paul Koretz, putatively esteemed CD5 repster, containing the phrase “quality of life.” I’m really interested in the kind of crazy shit that housedwellers gripe about to their council offices, and especially interested in the kind of terrorism that gets conjured up and poured down upon the tender heads of the helpless like so much molten lead from the ramparts as a result of such complaints.
Searches on this phrase seemed like a good way to find more of it, and oh boy, did that ever work out! Just for instance, if you have the heart, or the stomach, really, take a look at this endless series of constituent complaints from folks on Sweetzer Avenue in May of this year, really worked up about some construction noise created by an assuredly villainous outfit known as ETCO Homes.
Some of the complaints are merely unhinged rants of the kind we’re all to used to seeing around here. In the same genre, e.g., as certified and certifiable Grammy Award winning genius Anthony Kilhoffer’s screeching. For instance, behold Kelly Duda complaining to Koretz staffer Debbie Dyner Harris3 that “ETCO HOMES has become a disease, a cancer, in our neighborhood.” But there is far worse than that in there, among these mouth-frothing neighbors with their sociopathic rage.
Behold the pseudonymous racist xenophobe who calls herself “All Neighbors,”4 but whose identity other than that remains unknown, explaining to Debbie Dyner Harris just what she’s upset about and what the stakes of this dispute are:
WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH. No community of tax-paying residents should be put through this … the noise, constant beeping of trucks, the pollution to our air, the dust and muck all over our homes, the loss of parking, the invasion of workers who don’t speak the language and who are disrespectful to women .. ..
And meanwhile, we can’t even move forward on a small ask? And they are still allowed to take our parking whenever they want? And they still do concrete pours on Saturdays?
I have not called ICE to make sure their workers are legal. I have not organized acts of civic disobedience. I have not called media (though I will be writing a play about this in a proposal that is currently at The Geffen.) Instead, I’m working with your office because I hope you can support your constituents.
As accomplished close readers, you and I, we pay no mind to the fact that she’s listing things she hasn’t done.5 As obviously as a thuggish protection racketeer observing that you have a beautiful plate glass window and it’s be a shame if something happened to it, Sarah is threatening to call ICE because her neighborhood is suffering from “invasion of workers who don’t speak the language.”
So what we have here is a woman who is upset by noise and people speaking Spanish who thinks that it’s reasonable to call the authorities and possibly have them ripped out of their lives, perhaps leaving families, children, other dependents, not only personally bereft but without means of support, possibly subjecting the workers themselves to detention, deportation, torture, and worse, because she doesn’t like “constant beeping of trucks”?
Oh, and in case you think this particular issue was a passing thing, that perhaps she’s saner out of her rage than in it, well, it turns out that no. It seems that Debbie Dyner Harris did her job and arranged a meeting on May 31, 2019 between a rep from ETCO Homes and all the angry neighbors, and here is an email from late June summarizing what took place there. And here’s one of her demands:
We would like to be apprised as to how workers are vetted in terms of union affiliation, citizenship, documentation, etc. What are the standards for who is brought into what is essentially our front yards?
So yet again, in this much more calm frame of mind, she’s insisting that somehow both citizenship and documentation are requirements for her to find people acceptable. She already threatened to call ICE on them to achieve her goals, and this reiteration shows that she’s not giving up on making documentation an issue.
It seems insane. It is insane. And yet it is completely predictable. If a society creates a tool like the Gestapo, like ICE, it will be used by grudge informers for reasons exactly as trivial as this, with consequences exactly as serious as this. Because the blade itself incites to violence. Which is why, I hope, dear reader, you will look into Lights for Liberty or any one of a zillion similar organizations and find a protest near you, either for tomorrow or for some other time. Certainly, #NeverAgainIsNow.
- Homer, Odyssey, 19.3: αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.
- Formerly a CD11 staffer under Mike Bonin, in whose office she staffed the creation of the reprehensible Venice Beach Business Improvement District, for which she has a lot to answer, both in this world and the next. And the karmic reward of having to put up with these Sweetzer Avenue lunatics doesn’t even come close to repaying her for the damage.
- Whose first name is revealed in a later email to be Sarah, if you’re wondering at the pronounity.
- Don’t miss the only-in-LA moment where she reveals that she’s writing a damn play and submitting it to the freaking Geffen about loud construction in her neighborhood. That’s where we live, friends.