According to Nicole Nguyen, national security-related agencies and companies are drawing young people into a mindset of militarism and war via their involvement in homeland security programs, which have been established in dozens of public schools in the U.S. Nguyen did ethnographic work at one such high school; she reveals what the students are taught and what values and beliefs they are encouraged to adopt.I found this interview quite disturbing. Nguyen describes what many poorer school districts are faced with: inadequate funding for education and increasing pressure to focus on jobs to keep their students in school until they graduate. To make up for the lack of funding, many school districts are seduced by grants that are available from the Dept. of Homeland Security to fund curricula that promotes strong militaristic values, distorted ideas about terrorism, stereotypes about the Middle East, racist hyper-masculine conditioning, and the necessity of imperialist wars. Teachers at these schools are also assigned surveillance responsibilities to identify students who might be inclined toward terrorism.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up