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the black hole of rationality

live action shot of immigrant violence in nyc
i should probably make this one an ongoing series, possibly sponsored by some popular headache remedies, because i have a feeling that i'm going to have a lot of these moments.

i've had a busy few days, but that doesn't mean that i haven't been paying attention to what's going on in the world around me. of course, there are moments when i've wished i hadn't paid attention to the world around me, like when i saw that donald trump is apparently planning to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the united states. although it's only part of a much larger executive order, the crime sheet requirement is remarkable not just for its offensiveness, but for what it betrays of the civic knowledge of the people [it wasn't just trump] who wrote it.

now, i know i shouldn't go trying to attach things like logic to the current u.s. administration, but i really love logic and thought and all those awesome things our brains can do.

first of all, there is the shocking ambivalence of the statement itself: "a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens". "aliens" does not mean or even imply people who are there illegally. "aliens" just means people who come from another place. so, there's a very good possibility that the trump-republican list will include crimes committed by legal immigrants, foreign students and people who are in the country on federally sanctioned work visas. all of those people meet the definition of "aliens".

to that, the donald's supporters would respond that the "illegal" bit is clearly implied, since the order expressly seeks to increase awareness of so-called "sanctuary cities", where illegal immigrants have been given safe-ish haven. i don't know about you, but when i hear "sanctuary city", i think of those encampments near calais where thousands of people have been herded into temporary housing while governments pretend to be coming up with a solution to their problems. however, that's not the case. another word for sanctuary cities is... cities. all the term means is that there are cities in the united states where local law enforcement has declined to act on federal warrants for the arrest and deportation of illegal aliens.

a lot of america's big cities have declined those orders for different reasons, but a lot of it comes down to the fact that large cities have a more diverse population, and many in those cities [not just immigrants] believe that there should be more exceptions to the rules. the feds don't agree with that, which is fine, they have their priorities, but all a 'sanctuary city' is is a district where the federal and local authorities are in disagreement about the enforcement of immigration law. that's far from the only area where federal, state and local law enforcement have disagreements, but most of the time, they don't need to come up with a zippy term to describe the geography of the disagreement.

so, 'sanctuary cities' aren't linked to illegal immigrants more than 'flyover states' are; both of those things are just condescending terms for areas devised by people who felt forced to pay more attention to them than they wanted to.

but the possibility that trump and his backup singers are planning on attacking all foreign-borns, not just the illegal ones, is not the only thing that should be offensive about this. because this list? the information is already out there. it's already freely and legally accessible to americans and everyone else. he just wants to pay someone to select and arrange some of what's there in a way that pleases him and his puppetmasters.

for instance: all the information about sanctuary cities and how many warrants are declined and and where they're declined? immigration and customs enforcement has all the numbers in their annual report. and the "declined detainer outcome report" that the executive order says should be used as the source for this list? yeah, that's online too.

the "nasty immigrants weekly" listing would presumably be made up not of crimes committed that week, but of criminals found guilty that week. you can't go around randomly saying that someone committed a crime until they've plead or been found guilty; that's criminal libel. alternately, the government could put together a list of names of people who'd been charged, or who were being sought in connection with a crime. that would allow it to be a little more timely, but does that mean that the federal government would put its weight behind local law enforcement only when they are looking for aliens?

i'll bet that, as you read that last paragraph, you recalled seeing some sort of bulletin on the news, or on local television, with a drawing or blurry security camera footage of someone the police were looking for in connection with a crime. you know why you did that? because all that information is already fucking public. start to finish, the discovery, investigation, and prosecution of a crime are all a matter of public record. no, you can't access the police files, but the facts of who police suspect, of who has been charged, arraigned, who is going to trial, everything about the entire process is a matter of public record by law. any asshole who knows how to do a google search can come up with the information on their own. give them the brain cells to operate a phone, so that they can speak to someone responsible for record-keeping and the possibilities are almost limitless.

if a person wanted to know how many crimes were being committed in their city, or in any city, there is an ocean of data in which they can swim. but there's the catch: when people access the information, they aren't obliged to see it through the trump- bannon filter. access the weekly crime statistics, or local crime reports, or anything on the subject, and what you'll get is a list of everything that's happened.

now, if the new republican administration wanted to make it easy for people to find information exclusively on brown people stabbers, there is a way they could do it that would, no word of a lie, be helpful. that would be by making all this publicly owned information easier to find and search. it's fine for me to say that it's easy to get stuff online: i'm obsessive, withdrawn and driven by the sort of pettiness born of more than a thousand years of scottish heritage. we don't need a nation of people like me, ever. we need a system that people who are better adjusted than me can use, so that they're able to suss out the facts [no alternates] for themselves.

but the current administration doesn't want to do that either. because, if someone had access to the facts, they wouldn't be forced to view them through the trump- bannon lens. they could look up crime rates in "sanctuary cities" and they'd see all the ones that were committed by aliens. at the same time, they'd see the much larger number of crimes committed by people who weren't aliens of any sort. that's not what this gang wants, because that wouldn't guarantee people would stay on their side. they'd rather take public money to hire an additional set of bureaucrats to look at the same publicly available information and arrange it as they would like, so that it could be made publicly available to you, which it really already was.

weird times, my friends. weird and dangerous times. 

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