A Few Events: School Security and War

These events coincided yesterday:

  • The decision was made that Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut will be torn down.  The trauma of the breach of containment of the school by a shooter last Spring has overwhelmed the materiality of the school’s architecture, so that it must be destroyed to protect residents from enduring harm.  Keep in mind that schools with majority low-income and students of color are already endemically subject to maximum security apparatuses borrowed from the prison systems for their protection.  School safety of this kind has been a renewed object of focus since Sandy Hook.
  • A suicide bomb attack at an elementary school in Iraq killed at least thirteen adults and children.  A simultaneous attack on a police station, a far more heavily fortified installation, resulted in no deaths or injuries.  NPR frames the story in the well-trodden imperialist genre of “ethnic violence.”

The American apparatus of security, that war pursued by other means in sense of the Foucauldian inversion of Clausewitz, produces the following contradictions in a single day before then morphing back into war in the literal sense: a school’s architecture bearing the residue of an event of violence is deemed too overwhelming, resulting in the need to demolish it; American schools in general are subject to a tendency of maximum securitization and surveillance modeled on prisons; an American war in Iraq subtended by a security and terrorism discourse leaves the educational infrastructure in shambles; a school in Iraq is subject to total demolition through a suicide bomb, while a police station survives attack.

This is one definition of a resolutely American biopolitics: in order to enhance life, a little taste of death must be made endemic.


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