Creating Technology for Social Change

Police State Sandy

One of the few times soldiers can march in the streets in the US without causing panic is during a natural disaster. After Sandy, the military was providing aid (which is a good thing) but I was still slightly chilled by the images of soldiers marching in the streets of New York and the news that the Navy deployed three warships to help with aid. And wouldn’t providing aid be a great pretense to deploy troops to major cities before launching a coup and/or devolving into a police state? I made a NewsJack of CNN’s home page from Wednesday to reflect on this situation. All photos are taken from real Sandy coverage.

For the most part, my NewsJack does not explicitly show panic about the government presence for Sandy aid. There are some headlines and parts that show some doubt and indicate concern. Some of this doubt is based on real events and issues that arose during Sandy and the aftermath. I have changed a couple of links and several headlines to reflect these real issues.

I have noticed some trends in the actual Sandy aftermath coverage. Some articles go to great lengths to highlight the government aid being provided. The picture to the far left in my NewsJack is an example of this as it was on the actual CNN home page. I further highlight this by changing some of the headlines and pictures to glorify this aid. At the same time, others point out the problems and ineffectiveness of this same government aid. I have also changed a few of the small-text headlines to mention these issues. Finally, many articles find the need to tie the Sandy coverage to the election. This typically takes the form of discussing the potentially lower turnout rates or criticizing the response of candidates to the storm.

This NewsJack is clearly a parody but it highlights increasingly real issues. Some of the actual headlines mention a possible increase in superstorms. If there are more storms or disasters, it could be a great opportunity for the government to make a show of providing aid while asserting more control and increasing policing. It is harder to use a storm as an excuse for this than it is to use a terrorist attack but it is also less obvious.