Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the only Orc known to speak with a drawl, dwells in a dank and musty Manichean world with his loyal consorts, fear and paranoia. That reality informs a Hobbesian vision of governance characterized by reduced oversight of police authorities, more private prisons, and a slavish dedication to keeping strangers out of the country. He is President Trump’s pre-eminent policy enforcer and his world view has led him to bring dangerous simplicity and absolutism to policy issues that require analysis, nuance, insight, compassion, and a complex understanding incompatible with a Manichean worldview.
When the Arizona Legislature passed, and Governor Ducey signed Senate Bill 1431, they opened the door to a substantial replacement of public schooling with a taxpayer-supported system of private and parochial schools. Proponents claim their objective was to maximize school choice, despite insufficient evidence it will improve educational outcomes. Critics claim there is no improvement and the real purposes are to undermine teachers’ unions and dismantle the public school system in furtherance of an ideology that decries what some deride as “government schools.” Whatever the consequences, there is a danger that has not received sufficient attention: creation of a new system of segregated schools likely to be more expansive, insidious and dangerous than the segregation that led to Brown vs Board of Education.
On June 18, 2014, Justin Ross Harris and his 22-month old son, Cooper, ate breakfast at an Atlanta Chik-fil-A before Justin went to work. He was supposed to drop Cooper off at day care. Instead, he drove directly to work and left Cooper strapped in his car seat in the family’s locked Hyundai Tucson. Based on information from the Global News, this is what likely happened to Cooper: As the temperature rose, he became more and more uncomfortable and struggled against the car seat. A small child overheats quickly and his heart rate began to rise. He suffered neurological dysfunction, nausea, disorientation, delirium and seizures. He gasped for air as dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities caused heart arrhythmia. Cooper was trapped for seven hours. Justin claimed he simply made a horrible mistake, but the evidence was against him. He engaged in extra-marital affairs and paid for the services of a prostitute. He exchanged lewd text messages and photos with several women, including while Cooper slowly died. He researched the Internet for information on deaths in hot vehicles. He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
I think I am.
Therefore I am!
Of course you are, my bright little star…
I’ve miles and miles of files
Pretty files of your forefather’s fruit
And now to suit our great computer
You’re magnetic ink!
– The Moody Blues, “On the Threshold of A Dream,” 1969
When The Moody Blues released “On the Threshold of A Dream” in 1969, the world was on the threshold of the Internet, a dream being slowly realized by the Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA), which was created in 1958 in reaction to the Soviet Union’s successful launch of Sputnik. The Internet’s primordial ancestor, the ARPAnet, launched in 1969 by linking four universities in the western United States. The effort spread overseas and into the private sector and, in 1989, the same year the Berlin Wall fell, the World Wide Web was created. The Soviet Union disintegrated two years later and, by the end of the 1990s, the term “Internet” was entering common parlance.
The cables and fibers of the Internet gradually became neurons of a planetary nervous system and visionaries like Steve Jobs realized that individual computing devices were not merely tools, but extensions of the human nervous system into the grander structure. Pleasure, purchases and knowledge were at our fingertips. But we learned that the Internet, the planetary brain, had an id, a darker side laden with lies, pornography and terror. We also came to realize that the wondrous new planetary network was a two-way mirror: when we looked into the Internet, it looked back.