African Americans have always been systematically associated with crime in America, as a means of making them outlaws in their own land. Since 9/11, Muslims have been systematically linked with terrorism, in an attempt to depict the entire group as a clear and present danger to the American state. It should come as no surprise, then, that the internal logic of a racist and repressive society leads the U.S. to place Black Muslims under extraordinary surveillance.
You can find a lot of Black Muslims in a place like Newark, New Jersey, which is why the New York City police have for years been sending undercover officers out of their jurisdiction to spy on Newark.
Top local Democrats express outrage at the surveillance, which kept track of the goings on at such dangerous centers of terrorism as an African American school for first- to fourth-grade kids, and a Black all-girls private school in Newark. The NYPD sent spies into restaurants and neighborhood groceries, and saturated every mosque in the city with agents and informers – what the secret police call “mosque crawlers,” which sounds to my ear like a kind of cockroach.
Top Democrats in New Jersey, including Newark’s Mayor, Cory Booker, say that they’re angry at New York City. Senator Robert Menendez wants U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to do an investigation. But President Barack Obama’s administration is actually paying some of the bill for the cops that New York sent to spy on Newark and localities throughout the region. New York City diverts millions of dollars in federal anti-drug money, overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and spends it on surveillance of Muslims. The federal Department of Homeland Security hands out millions to the NYPD, but refuses to discuss how the money is spent. And Attorney General Eric Holder’s top civil rights lawyer has repeatedly refused to comment on the civil liberties implications of New York’s vast surveillance program. Clearly, the Obama administration’s silence means consent.
There is nothing ambiguous about the NYPD mission. It is designed to target whole communities as nests of terror. The surveillance is largely carried out by what is called the Demographic Unit, whose purpose is to spy on a whole demographic slice of residents, in this case Muslims, to map out how they live in minutest detail, and to record who is saying what to whom. In practice, it is as if the police saturated every Italian-American neighborhood, restaurant, business, social club, church, school, and playground in order to find out more about the Mafia.
Of course, such police state tactics would not be tolerated by Italian Americans, or by their fellow white Christians. But, when Muslims – and, especially Muslims who are Black – are targeted for hyper-surveillance…well, that’s a different story.
When little Black girls at the Al-Hidaayah and Al Muslimaat academies, in Newark, are placed under anti-terror surveillance, then we know that genocide is not beyond the realm of possibility. When undercover cops make note of the ethnicity of every person who enters a mosque in New York City, or Newark, New Jersey, then we know that whatever solution the police have in mind to whatever problem they think they have, is an ethnic and racial solution.