So, like millions of other people, I’m watching the Trump town hall with school shooting survivors and the camera shows Betsy DeVos sitting to the side like a wooden dummy (maybe she was there to make Trump look sympathetic) and as always, my skin crawls.
There’s plenty about Betsy DeVos to make your skin crawl, but for me it isn’t her, so much as her brother, Blackwater founder and international war criminal Erik Prince.
At the height of the Iraq war, nine out of every ten tax dollars went to private military/security contractors, of which Blackwater was first and foremost. This was with the willing and gleeful participation of the Bush ’43 administration: on September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld told an audience at the Pentagon that he intended to privatize as much of the US military as possible.
Rachel Maddow wisely pointed out months ago that every time the President opens his/her mouth, they set US policy. Donald Trump has announced his clear desire for guns, armed teachers and private security in US schools.
Betsy DeVos’ brother ran a “private security/military contracting/risk assessment agency” (it sounds nicer than “mercenary temp agency”) and no doubt still has extensive contacts in the private military industry. He’s currently listed as the owner of a “private equity firm”…I wonder what kind of companies he gives startup funds to, hmm?
So, the current Secretary of Education has zero ties to education, but has deep family ties to military contractors.
Blackwater did gangbusters providing soldiers for the “War On Terror,” but like all smart businessmen, Erik Prince was constantly focused on diversifying and looking for new customers in different sectors…one Blackwater training facility (of which there were several) even had a full-size mockup of a high school (dubbed “Terror High”) to help train for school shooting scenarios (all facts about Erik Prince and Blackwater in this post come from Jeremy Scahill’s excellent expose’, Blackwater).
I guarantee you the moment Trump said the magic words “armed security in schools” a bunch of calls started being made and spreadsheets started being pored over.
This is terrifying enough once you read between the lines, but wait, there’s more: Business was booming, but the problem was that Blackwater became victims of their own success: “talent” was in such high demand that they soon ran out of US-born candidates for assignments and started recruiting mercenaries from repressive regimes like South Africa and Chile. A large percentage of the guys who were supposed to be fighting for baseball and apple pie overseas were trained thugs from totalitarian regimes who had no stake in America other than a paycheck.
There are hundreds of thousands of public schools in the US, countless more private schools, and millions of teachers and students. What happens when the supply of “qualified volunteers” dries up? I guarantee you if “guns in schools” becomes widespread national policy, we’ll exhaust our supply of “qualified volunteers” quickly…at which point the “private risk management” industry will only be too happy to step in. And, once our supply of homegrown “contractors” is exhausted, they’ll start recruiting off-campus.
The Dylan Klebolds and Eric Harrises scare me, but what scares me worse is the idea that the guy greeting my child at the school door could have been slitting throats in Central America or Nigeria a week ago…and this fox was invited into the henhouse with the gleeful endorsement of US politicians, the business community, and an increasingly frightened and cowed public.
If, in the name of “safety,” you want to give literal mercenaries access to your children...good for you. Leave me out of it.
I hope I’m wrong. I really do.