Imagine a computer game that “helps” students and teachers identify the budding radicals in their classrooms. Now imagine that game ferrets out potential extremists based on their legal, constitutionally protected religious and political activities.
Imagine also that it is based on stereotypes and unscientific, disproven theories about why people flirt with and become besotted with extremist ideologies, or eventually reject them.
Now imagine that the FBI wants students and teachers across the country to play the game and alert the FBI to any potential terrorists in their midst.
Well, it’s about to be real.
The FBI plans to launch “Don’t Be A Puppet,” a new web-based game that turns students and teachers into spies and snitches for the FBI.
The program, designed for middle school and high school students, includes “games” and exercises that perpetuate stereotypes and false indicators that youth are “at risk” of radicalization. One question asks students to identify a social media post that “should raise alarms,” possible answers include: posting on facebook about feeling emotional; or a post by someone with a common Arabic name saying he’s going overseas on a religious mission and asking if anyone would like to come along.
Guess which answer is “correct.”
The FBI plans to launch the program soon, but advocates will meet later this week with officials at the Department of Homeland Security to object.
Add your voice to ours. We need 5,000 signatures on this petition by Thursday, December 10.
Update: Dec 11, 2015
The petition is now closed for signatures. Thanks to all who signed, and we will bring an update on the results as soon as we can.
“Teachers in classrooms should not become an extension of law enforcement. The program is based on flawed theories of radicalization, namely that individuals radicalize in the exact same way and it’s entirely discernible. But it’s not, and the FBI is basically asking teachers and students to suss these things out.” (Arjun S. Sethi, Georgetown University Law Center)
BORDC/DDF is partnering with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee on this action.