Public-order addendum

I just heard that on the evening the Austin City Council amended the public-order laws, it also passed a resolution “expressing the City Council’s opposition to the activities of the Minutemen and directing the City Manager to report to the City Council any identified activity of the Minutemen within the City.”

At first I was perplexed and outraged: Why would the city target a long-defunct punk band, especially so close to the 20th anniversary of the death of its singer-guitarist? Eventually I was told the council had in mind the private-sector border guards who lately have brought their neofascist harassing to Texas, and then it all made sense to me: It was democracy in action. The Minutemen receive condemnation and surveillance for reproducing borders between the US and Mexico and for controlling the movement of people, while Austin produces new borders and new zones for controlling movement within the city. Bad cop/good cop. Vigilantism/law and order. By condemning the freelancers, and implicitly stating its antiracist, humanitarian bona fides, the city avers its role as the legitimate agent of power. You’d have to be a nut to see any equivalence between the two.

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