Simulant Youth

[Image: Youth storm a building; photo by Todd Krainin for the New York Times. The rest of Krainin's slideshow should not be missed].

The Boy Scouts of America apparently have a youth anti-terrorism training program here in California, partially dedicated to simulated border patrol exercises.
"The Explorers program," as it's called, "a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence – an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters."
This training, we read courtesy of The New York Times, "can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out 'active shooters,' like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses." The kids, toting compressed air guns styled to look like heavy weaponry, even once "raided" a simulated marijuana-growing operation. “I like shooting them,” a 16-year old Scout named Cathy Noriega said, referring to said guns. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”
These and other replicant crime scenes spill out across private backyards temporarily donated for the purpose of youth-officer training. This deliberately militarized new spatial order of well-run simulations – including "building[s] rigged with tripwire, alarms and 'poison' gas" – seems to fall somewhere between immersive game, after-school program, sports training, and indoctrination exercise.
The slideshow is worth a view.

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Blogger muthacourage said...

Necklace of teeth awarded after extraction of critical intelligence from simulated terrorists (on board simulated boeings natch (my god what a great use for the graveyard of planes))?

The thing is I kind of envy them, we used to have this thing in the UK called quasar which was sold as a sort of laser/infra red paintball but came off considerably less sexy (you really need projectiles/be injured to make shooting fun). But the idea was cool as hell, and really any excuse to shoot at people was good enough. So the fact that these kids actually get to run around a warehouse tricked out with tripwirebooby traps and bb guns is super appealing, it's just batshitinsane that "any excuse" has been replaced by anti terrorist training, but then you wonder what exactly underpinned the fantasy for paintballing/quasar in the first place. Why is the fantasy of exotic urban/guerilla warfare suddenly extra unsavory when put in the service of the state rather than a "bit of fun", does the state in fact relieve you of the guilt of enjoying these perversities?

May 14, 2009 11:44 AM  
Blogger Vesper de Vil said...

This is very disturbing and definitely an exercise in indoctrination.

May 14, 2009 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it extremely disturbing that many of these kids are Latino and being trained with violence as an appropriate method to deal with illegal immigration. How does this solve anything? How about teaching compassion or exploring cross border connections between these populations... Giving kids guns and militaristic training is just not going to make a pretty world.

May 14, 2009 12:50 PM  
Blogger Pete V said...

Tactical training for hostage/terrorist situations is one thing, but raiding a faux-grow house!?! That's just brutish.

p.s. Guns will always be cool-fun, whether they are used to sustainably hunt food or threaten away Mexican immigrants.

May 14, 2009 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we can teach them to apply waterboarding techniques to extract information from the "terrorists"......

Protect whats yours with force rather than learning to be compassionate thoughtful humans.

May 14, 2009 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Protect whats yours with force rather than learning to be compassionate thoughtful humans."

What is "yours"? We (humans and all other living creatures) live on a finite planet. The "what" you talk about is "ours". We all need to learn how to live together. Teaching kids violence is not a step in that direction.

May 14, 2009 3:18 PM  
Blogger HomerTheBrave said...

Jesus wept.

May 14, 2009 5:12 PM  
Blogger HomerTheBrave said...

On greater reflection five seconds later:

Recall that the BSA claims to be a religious organization, in order to allow it to discriminate against gays.

Also, this could be the sort of dangling vestigial idea left over from the Time Of Terrorized Americans that seems rather insane in the current climate. Someone should catalogue such insanities and make a book.

May 14, 2009 5:16 PM  
Blogger Smash said...

The future looks blurred !?

May 15, 2009 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an explorer during my time in scouting and must say that this article is a bunch of complete nonsense. Most of our time was spent hiking and working on BSA merit badges, e.g. Citizenship in the Community. Never once did we simulate border patrol exercises. I am now a graduate student (not a police officer/firefighter) and am not involved in amateur border patrol. Furthermore, quoting a 16-year old as saying “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited,” about guns really says more about our society in general than it does about BSA. Participating in scouting is not a common denominator for 16-year olds who share that sentiment about guns. The author of this post (and maybe the NYT article too, I haven't read it yet) are intentionally trying to make the Boy Scouts look ridiculous.

May 15, 2009 11:18 AM  
Anonymous fritz park said...

I couldn't help but think of boy soldiers in Africa who actually fight, kill and die for no apparent reason...

Airguns made to look like heavy ammunition held by porky boys and girls who live in relative luxury in the US as opposed to mangled AK47s held by starving orphaned preschoolers in Central Africa...

I see so many similarities between these two groups that the only difference I can make out is if the bullets are real or not.

how depressing...

May 15, 2009 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the movie 'Starship Troopers', the totalitarian society that trains youth for war.

This is fantastically disturbing. Training 2nd generation immigrants to fight off immigrants???
And terrorism? what terrorism?..

Weapons, even fake ones should not be put in the hands of young people, it will only help standardize violence in their consciousness.
I thought I'd seen it all since 2001...

May 16, 2009 3:54 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

As a former Boy Scout this just irks me. The Scouts were there for kids to learn useful skills and love for the outdoors. Now instead they have "programs" for this type of indoctrination. *throws hand in air*

May 16, 2009 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will these little guys be patrolling school yards and putting down bullies?

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm . . . can you say Nazi Youth?

May 21, 2009 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martial Law training. Young Nazi's yep. Easy to see the crappy future ahead.... and so many are still blind to this going on in our country others too stupid to understand what is getting ready to happen. Guess I need to catch up on the latest from Alex Jones (I haven't been to his site or listened to him in over a month)

May 21, 2009 1:28 PM  

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