Has your government ever labelled you a potential terrorist? My state government may have just done that to me.
Last Tuesday, May 14, five Black Hills school districts—Rapid City, Sturgis, Deadwood, Custer, and Hot Springs—participated in a terrorism response drill. County and state emergency response personnel also participated. Here's how Curt Nettinga describes the scripted events in Hot Springs:
While the drill actually commenced at 12:30 p.m., things began early when a bus driver reported a suspicious SUV with several people following during his morning route. Next, a letter handed to a student at the Elementary School over the lunch hour is turned in to Principal. The letter threatens that “things dear to everyone will be destroyed unless continuation of the Keystone pipeline and uranium mining is stopped immediately.”
While the entire scenario was scripted, the use of pertinent and timely issues seemed to make it more realistic. Similar letters were scripted to have been sent to the other respective schools, each of which had slightly different scenarios presented to them [Curt Nettinga, "Mock Drill Has Positive Results," Hot Springs Star, 2013.05.21].
Wait a minute: Canadian companies threaten South Dakotans' land rights, water quality, and safety, and public officials in South Dakota tell kids to be afraid of citizens who have the audacity to stand against that foreign corporate agenda? Good grief! If our public officials can weave that kind of propaganda into their emergency exercises, I think they've just given me license to label them, TransCanada, and Powertech as corporate fascists.
Let me be clear: blowing up schools has never entered my head as a moral or effective response to TransCanada's or Powertech's predations. But I want to know whoever's head it did enter.
Whose cockamamie idea was it that scripting an imagined eco-terrorist agenda into an emergency readiness exercise would help teachers lock their doors faster, would help kids be quieter, or would help bomb squads find the fake bombs faster? Seriously, I want a name. I want an agency. Whose idea was it to label the political opponents of South Dakota's Canadian energy sell-out—people like me—as likely terrorist threats?