New Orleans Watching Kris Kobach, the uber-controversial Kansas Secretary of State who has been a one-man wrecking ban of voters rights, ballot access, and the human and legal rights of immigrants, walking hand in hand with President-elect Trump and giving him advice on how to set up a Muslim registry was another in a long list of scary moments in recent weeks, I don’t care how much sugar he put in the coffee of the crowd at the New York Times in his meet and greet. People all over the country are debating where to open their minds and where to take a stand. I’m a collective action guy, but as we all realize, enough individual actions put together are also collective actions.
Recently many of us saw an example of this on Facebook of all places. When it became clear that the sheriff in North Dakota was monitoring the Facebook check-ins to determine who and how many people were part of the Standing Rock Sioux anti-pipeline protests, people from all over the world registered that they were there in order to put a monkey wrench in the sheriff’s plans.
Earlier a common strategy for individual actions to thwart NSA snooping and mass government profiling, as revealed by Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks, was not only to be opaque on social media but to shuffle the deck widely on sites like LinkedIn. I have no idea how people really use LinkedIn to get a job, and having several, I’ve never worried about it. The simple strategy is to accept all requests to link. For me that means music promoters and rock acts, radio djs, organizers, publications people, random sales personnel, and even old friends. Let them figure that out. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a fool’s errand.
The other day I heard an interesting individual action strategy to protect undocumented immigrants. In cities where there is a municipal IDs that can be used for basic identification when lacking other documents, similar to how we used our ACORN membership cards for our waste pickers in India, many are now moving to ask for one. NYCID for example in the Big Apple is being flooded with non-immigrants in order to make it an unattractive target for Homeland Security, if it comes to that. Furthermore, in New York having such an ID gives the holder premiums and discounts in some places. This is Trump-city, so who would be surprised if business didn’t find a way to benefit.
I saw a posting the other day from a friend who said he was ready to sign onto the Muslim registry, if one was created by Kobach and the new gang. Might be hard to do that since it was pointed out to me that most of the touted registry is designed to nab you as you enter the country from foreign lands. I’m actually not sure, but in some countries, once again India is an example, applying for a visa demands you state your religious preference. Even if the United States is asking for that information, right now it’s protected as confidential, so presumably the Kobach’s on the right want to break down any kind of privacy walls that exist, just as they want to build other walls.
On the other hand if they are thinking about reinvigorating the same laws used to force Japanese-Americans to register during World War II, and some experts have recently argued that many of those laws, though in disuse, were never repealed, then that’s another matter. If such a list is passed around and mandated for Muslims, many of us will have little choice but to register in hopes that we can break that bank by the overwhelming volume of the protest.