The controversial Minuteman Project encourages citizens to volunteer their time guarding the U.S./Mexico border against illegal immigration. Well, if you are disinclined to wander the border desert, you can now be a virtual Minuteman. Sandra H. N. sent us a link to BlueServo where you can click on a series of webcams. Each webcam is pointed at a spot where there may be illegal border crossings. Here’s a screenshot of the webcams you can select from:
Here’s a video about the project:
Here’s a description of a virtual border guard from an NPR story:
[He] pops a Red Bull, turns on some Black Sabbath or Steppenwolf, logs in to www.blueservo.net — and starts protecting his country. “This gives me a little edge feeling,” Fahrenkamp says, “like I’m doing something for law enforcement as well as for our own country.”
This is a fascinating convergence of patriotism, masculinity, class, and (likely) race. Minutemen protect (white) America by putting their bodies on the border, but now men can do so without the trappings of masculinity that Minutemen can lay claim to. Instead, if they have a computer with a (quick) internet connection, they can defend America from behind a computer screen and, perhaps, lay claim to at least some of the masculine capital that Minutemen on the border earn by putting their bodies on the line.
From another angle: I wish Foucault were alive today. Any Foucauldians out there who want to comment on this virtual panopticon?Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
AL — March 24, 2009
What a perfect and absolutely disgusting way to promote racism and general hatred toward immigrants.
Although I seriously doubt this project would even make a difference in border patrol (as in if someone goes to the bathroom, s/he will potentially be letting someone who would not otherwise be caught get away?), it is so wrong that I don't even know where to begin.
Watching the border looks eerily like a video game, where you, the agent, is on a mission to catch the evil wrongdoers trying to sneak into our country. It completely dehumanizes illegal immigrants, where they are objectified and immediately equated to immoral and dangerous (the drugs! the high crime!), since the mere act of moving on some of these cameras means they should be reported immediately.
Also, it reinforces the idea that being "patriotic" means engaging in behavior where the volunteer, probably a white privileged American (since that's what the web site seems to cater to), should exercise her/his privilege and power at the expense of non-white illegal immigrants, who will no doubt be stripped of their agency the minute they get here (if they get here at all).
Elena — March 24, 2009
"This area is known of illegal drug activity." I take these guys are the same as the English Only people?
kt — March 24, 2009
What happens if you're just a regular ole white US citizen wandering the camera areas/borders/etc for plain ole jollies?
Someone should test this.
Fernando — March 24, 2009
I just don't understand where the association between blueservo and masculinity came from in this post. Why the emphasis on males using blueservo? The website doesn't look like it was built to appeal to any specific gender. And what was with that assumption that men will use it with the purpose of "earning masculine capital".
I just didn't get from where that came from.
Duran — March 24, 2009
I can understand the disgust toward this system if you're generally for more open borders (esp. with Mexico).
However, try to tease the use away from the technology - it's an amazing innovation in law enforcement that has applicability far beyond just border protection.
Village Idiot — March 24, 2009
I used to live close to the line in AZ and have crept around some illegal-crossing hot spots on occasion, and even gone so far as to sneak into Mexico, then sneak back to the U.S. (post-9/11 no less!). It's not as hard as you might think, depending on where you go. I had friends who lived on a couple of ranches that bordered Mexico, and in the evening their Mexican friends would walk over (to the U.S. side) to hang out and drink a few beers. Then they'd walk back home (to Mexico). This still goes on in some places, so like any time a section of the border has been made harder to cross, those who try will go to some other section. It's a looooong border, and these gestures are just that- gestures (to show you that "something is being done").
I had some other friends in Tucson who did some private border patrolling (and probably still do). They weren't with the Minutemen (there are a few such groups) but they did talk about how much fun it was for the two of them (a married couple) to take their dune buggy down there and go tearing around someone's border property while carrying AK-47's. They never encountered anyone (the loud buggy probably gave ample warning to hide), and I think they just liked living out some kind of Mad Max fantasy. Though I was invited, I declined to join in.
I never introduced those friends to my friend who was a human smuggler. She brought in people targeted by death squads back home (usually a Central American country) and laughed when I asked about the new radar balloons being deployed (new at the time). She said one in particular was placed so that it faced a small mountain that was on the Mexican side, behind which was a smugglers' airfield. The mountain blocked the radar from detecting anything flying out of the airfield, which was less than a mile from the line. That's either gross incompetence on the part of whoever installed them or it was not an accident. I believe it was the latter due to the huge sums of money involved. Fact is, if you truly shut down the border, a lot of Mexican Federales and U.S. INS agents would lose a vast source of supplemental income.
I have a problem both with borders in general and the idea of an "illegal" human being, but I really don't know what to do about the line between the U.S. and Mexico. Legalizing drugs would help tremendously in terms of lowering the level of violence now plaguing the region, along with eliminating all the drug smuggler traffic. Then again, drug smugglers are some of our best border security against terrorism, if nothing else. Drug smugglers and coyotes (paid guides for people trying to get here) are greedy profiteers interested in nothing but money, so the last thing they'd want is for some fundamentalist nut jobs to cross 'their' territory, which may cause the U.S. to respond by militarizing the border (and cutting off the smugglers' profits). Any who try will simply disappear, just like what happens to many smugglers not affiliated with whatever cartel controls the area. It's a rough area to say the least, but only because of the imaginary border running through it.
With all that said, I am SO going to find the spot one of these cameras are pointed at and either slowly walk through the area wearing a Bigfoot costume or I'll just moon the camera (I got a border "gesture" for ya!). So keep watching for me out there!
A real life migrant game: fun for us, not them « A possie in Aussie — March 24, 2009
[...] real life migrant game: fun for us, not them Jump to Comments Sociological Images brings us this chilling development in ‘border protection’: you can sit in comfort in [...]
TM — March 24, 2009
"I have a problem both with borders in general and the idea of an “illegal” human being"
You'd have no trouble with someone squatting in your yard? Your bedroom?
What if they were called trespassers and/or criminals instead?
Many people have called the US a prison state, some going so far as to say prison planet. Eventually there will be walls, not only around gated communities, but gated countries. Like Korean wall mixed with The Great Wall but with all kinds of cameras. It will be a hobby to watch, it scratches a voyeuristic, self-preservation and patriotic itch. This of course depends on how quickly "emerges markets" emerge and what exactly emerges.
OP Minded — March 25, 2009
Although some may wish to make this about "WHITE" Americans, the fact is that illegal immigration from Mexico has significantly lowered the standard of living for Black Americans but suppressing wages.
Village Idiot — March 25, 2009
TM: Are you really that dense or are you just joking?
Border Surveillance, the Drug Trade, and Immigrants « Memory, Learning, Culture, Networks, Spaces, Ecology, Expertises — March 26, 2009
[...] 26, 2009 · No Comments Credit to Sociological Images for pointing in this [...]
ojovidrioso — March 28, 2009
Hello. im teh guy who bing the link to may dear firend Sandra Huerta.
I must say I´ve take the linke from "spanish is different 2.0" (i dont remeber de ULR)
I only can say: Today we (anyone, dot´t care who, or in what situation) put a kick in the ass to our differents.
Tomorrow, surely, someone will put a kick in the ass in orus. then we not only would be angry and furious, but we too will not understand a single concept about whhy this it happens to ours.
Sorry for may poor english.