After the election, I was so hurt and dazed and upset that it was all I could do to push out one political blog post, an effort that sent me into hibernation the second I hit “publish.” My inner blogger has been clinging to a bit of driftwood, panting to catch her breath until now. The thing that finally pushed me back into the sea of writing was—what else?—someone else’s bad writing!
This time, it’s ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) writing poorly.
Let me rephrase that; the actual mechanics of ICE’s writing are fine. But the ideas expressed are seriously questionable.
You’ve all heard of the new VOICE hotline for victims of crimes committed by “illegal aliens”? I’m sure you also heard that people pranked the hotline with reports of illegal aliens. As in, E.T.-phone-home aliens.
Fusion.net recently covered the story, and ICE sent them an angry email defending VOICE and calling out the pranksters. I’m critiquing ICE’s email because I think it raises some important points about the nature of VOICE and how people feel about it.
I hope you won’t dignify this group with the attention they are seeking. But if you choose to do so…this group’s cheap publicity stunt is beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse.
ICE brings up an interesting question: what “attention” is “this group” seeking with their crank calls? First of all, what group? Weren’t the callers random citizens from around the U.S. and not an organized social club? This is not so much a concentrated organization looking for cheap publicity, but rather individual people all acting on something they naturally feel. Anger? Worry for immigrants? Frustration that seeks humor as an outlet?
Instead of pretending this was a “publicity stunt” (seriously ICE, no one thinks this was a publicity stunt), ICE would do well to consider why the creation of VOICE spurred so many otherwise-unconnected individuals to hit back.
Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy.
Their actions seek to obstruct and harm crime victims?
How is pranking a hotline an intentional strategy to make sure you harm other people who use that hotline? Maybe ICE meant, “This prank could eat up bandwidth on the hotline, and that will affect the people who need it most, so pranksters should think about that.” Even though I would still have qualms with that claim (more on that later), at least it would make more sense than claiming that a hotline prank is some kind of intentional and personal strike against crime victims.
Second, ICE and everyone else in this country know perfectly well the motive behind this prank. It wasn’t attention-seeking, and it wasn’t random individuals waking up one day and deciding to harm crime victims.
Pranksters lashed out at VOICE because they saw it as another piece in a political strategy designed to turn “immigrants” into a common enemy. Many people fear that the current administration has and will continue to demonize immigrants for its own gain. And with people like Steven Bannon afoot, who can blame folks for worrying?
Surely ICE must know that this was the motive of many pranksters. I’m sure you know that, too. Even if you disagree with those pranksters…even if you think that immigrants are dangerous (I do not) and even if you believe the VOICE service is needed…you would have to be living under a rock to not know that people resist VOICE because they see VOICE as calculated persecution against immigrants.
So no, ICE. No. What they are doing is not “objectively despicable.” It is reasonable to dislike an “immigrant crime hotline” created right after a political season in which politicians dangerously and unscrupulously used immigrants as a common enemy to garner votes.
Pretending you don’t know why VOICE’s opponents dislike it is, to borrow a phrase I recently overheard, “beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse.”
The VOICE Office provides information to citizens and non-citizens alike regardless of status, race, etc., whose loved ones have been killed or injured by removable aliens.
Is there a reason we need a special office to provide information to victims of crimes, over and above what law enforcement already does? Can victims of attack, or the families of murder victims, not get information or help from the police if the attacker was foreign? Regular law enforcement channels are sufficient to handle and distribute information on the vast majority of killings in the U.S., and I assume some of those crimes were committed by immigrants before this election season. Why did we coincidentally begin needing this special hotline at just the moment when a new administration needed a PR campaign to justify demonizing immigrants?
Many (including myself) suspect that VOICE is a PR move to make immigrant crime look like an epidemic, to bolster the power of the incoming administration.
This is at the heart of why people pranked VOICE, and again, ICE would do well to consider that instead of feigning ignorance about people’s feelings.
VOICE provides access to the same information you and other reporters are already able to obtain. Yet this group claims it’s somehow racist to give the same to victims of all races and nationalities? That is absurd.
^^ I don’t even understand what that means. Please use fewer word salads.
Further, openly obstructing and mocking victims
NO ONE IS ATTEMPTING TO OBSTRUCT OR MOCK VICTIMS, they are mocking this thinly-veiled attempt to make immigrants look dangerous. Stop pretending not to know what people’s real motives are!
crosses the line of legitimate public discourse. VOICE is a line for victims to obtain information.
Again, why can’t they get information the way you typically do when crimes are committed?
This group’s stunt is designed to harm victims. That is shameful.
What’s shameful is that you keep accusing people of one set of motives when we all know they have another set of motives, and you’re doing it to keep people from asking a really vital question: why does this new hotline have the look of a propaganda tool meant to sour us against immigrants?
You know what, ICE, I respect that you do a tough job, but you really dropped the hot dog on this one. The creation of VOICE has such a propaganda smell around it that you’re stooping below yourselves to defend it, let alone get sanctimonious about it.
And speaking of stooping too low, what’s this I hear about lying in wait at churches and other important public spaces to arrest undocumented individuals? What’s this I hear about cracking down on undocumented individuals who haven’t committed any type of crime? What’s this I hear about children getting sick and being unable to concentrate at school because they’re afraid their mom will be taken away when they get home? What’s this I hear about our brash leader wanting to publicize lists of immigrant crimes, all Gestapo-style? If we’re going to bring up shameful behavior, let’s start by asking whether we, as a society, should just follow whatever order comes from the top regardless if the orders are healthy, wise, or loving. Then we can talk about people making crank phone calls.
To wrap up: If you want information on a crime, go to the police. If you want insight into the true purpose of VOICE, take stock of the recent election and its “open season” attitude toward immigrants.
And furthermore, I’d like to report an orange alien in a toupee who I think may have stolen the password to a popular Twitter account. Stick that in your phone line and smoke it.