This morning, shortly after 7am, one border police (PAF) van followed by a police nationale car swiftly entered Africa House. As it was a strange alliance of forces, we only blew our whistles when the police got out of the van and started checking the premises. We usually expect raids much later than 7.00am, and a lot of times, police cars and PAF only stop for a minute at the entrance, and drive away. No need to wake people up for that.
This time though they did enter. Quite a few of us were present, one had a camera and did a bit of filming. No physical violence that we know of has occurred. There was the usual threats and insults directed at us. They may not have known that I was a French speaker. One person was called a dickhead. Another was threatened with violence by an irritated officer, who said it was early and he was “not in the mood, so don’t piss me off with your fucking camera.”
As I was getting slightly closer to witness whatever that guy would do, he said, still in French, to a mystified English-speaking activist, “Just ask Mr — over here, he knows. Don’t fucking piss me off.” He mentioned my name, because I’ve been around Calais, and he knows my mom has been taken to court for filming and for “outrages,” which as I explained elsewhere, means any sign whatsoever that you’re not showing the proper respect due to a person “of authority.” The result of the authoritarian fines was financial ruin for my family, and a broken home, which we’re mending little by little.
I do not explain any of that to my friend, because he sees that tension is rising and wisely steps back a bit. We are standing around the prayer mat, and this idiot walks on it. It’s very disrespectful to put your shoes on such a thing. Now I’m not a muslim, but neither do I go around being a dickhead to everyone, for no reason. Ah, but there was a reason: we’d dared filming the idiot. As we inform the officer that he should not step on the prayer mat, repeatedly, he says “Well you pissed me off with your filming, now it’s my turn pissing you off.”
The van was at that point inside the building, and parked just aside from the mat. And so of course, they also drove over it. Only one PAF officer said he couldn’t know and stepped out. The others didn’t give a fuck. It’s that kind of disrespect that people have to face every day, and the government tries to stop this with ‘deontological codes.’ As the song Lawman from Motorhead said, I know that you live by a book of rules, but anyone who needs a book is a fool.
This long story is repeated every single day in various ways. Sometimes no hair is touched, sometimes a beating occurs. This isn’t a bloody massacre, and so some think it’s pretty much alright. It’s the law. Many times, CRS wave us off, or exclaim, sardonically, “You’re so effective!”
The truth is different. Border control in Calais consists in kidnapping and confining people until the judicial system allows for them to be deported. As the memory of WW2 is still quite vivid, mass deportations are difficult to organize, and so the French state goes for a middle-way strategy. Instead of trying to deport them all at once, a policy of daily harassment is put into place, and coupled with encouragements to leave. Migrants can decide to opt out and get a free flight ticket with extra money, to get back to their country.
Sometimes though, those flights are organized against their consent. To achieve this, the state needs to obtain a passport. And thus, the French state connives with home governments to ‘recognize’ a migrant’s nationality, usually through speaking with him, and to obtain such passports from such governments. Needless to say, more than this occurs behind the curtains, as those home governments usually get something back for the people they accept. An instance of this was visible recently with Khadafi’s racist remarks that if he didn’t get enough money for the trouble of handling the migrants that European countries deport to his country, Europe’s future would look black instead of white and christian.
Crime is a matter of principle, not a matter of degree. We usually think of liberty as one of the fundamental rights that all of humanity enjoys. So why does the judiciary allow this right to be trampled by the state?
Because we’ve come to think of crime as a matter of degree rather than of principle. For instance, I was arguing that taxation is theft, and a person replied, “Well, if the taxes are too high then it’s certainly abusive and theft, but it’s not theft in and of itself.”
In a debate I was deeply angered by, some people objected to my use of the word oppression, saying that it was uncalled for as far as democrats are concerned. They think that as long as blood isn’t spilling everywhere, then things are fine.
As a matter of fact, it is better, but not good enough, that border control is organized so that the least amount of force is used. But kidnapping people is still a crime. The only good border control is the inexistent border control. If I take a gun, and without touching a hair on someone, manage to take his money, no one will say that it was alright. People will just think that I’ve succeeded in stealing from someone with minimum violence.
Clearly, as far as rights are concerned, we should not be worried that violence is used or not, but that a person retain his or her rights. A successful kidnapping is still a crime. And that’s what Border Control freaks say, that they are successful. They have no sense of the wrong they are doing, because they are doing it according to rules and procedures, as if that mattered. Organized crime is still crime.