Tag Archives: andy stepanian

The Enemization of Everything or an American Story of Empathy & Healing?

The Enemization of Everything or an American Story of Empathy & Healing?

As president Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term and announces his cabinet selections The Indypendent has published a special issue titled “The Shadow Term” in which they have selected their own creative roster for cabinet appointments.

Sparrow’s cofounder Andy Stepanian joined the Indypendent’s all-star team of would-be cabinet appointees, Bill McKibben (Dept. of Energy), Michael Ratner (Attorney General), Laura Flanders (Secretary of State), Sarah Jaffe (Dept. of Labor), Remi Kanazi & Alex Kane (Special Envoy to Palestine & Israel), Deborah Small (Director, DEA), Nathan Schneider (Dept. of Defense) and accepted the appointment of “Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.”  The following is his contribution, written as an acceptance letter…


In the weeks between my appointment and when I entered this office I had the privilege of spending several days alongside former Secretary Janet Napolitano. I found Secretary Napolitano’s leadership to be exemplary as applied to the terms defining her position as DHS secretary. These terms, framed 11 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provide a foundation for what it means to direct our Department of Homeland Security. However, I regretfully, and respectfully, submit to you today, that these terms upon which we apply the responsibility of securing of our homeland are flawed. I intend to spend my term as secretary redefining these terms, and eventually redefining the position of secretary to the Department of Homeland Security.

With no disrespect intended to Secretary Napolitano, I will share with you a conversation she and I had regarding these aforementioned terms.

When I asked Secretary Napolitano to recall her first days in office, she waxed nostalgic about a conversation she had in 2009 with her predecessor, Secretary Michael Chertoff, about “the cornerstone of our security apparatus.” This “cornerstone” was handed down from Tom Ridge to Chertoff to Napolitano. When I asked her what this “cornerstone” was she simply replied, “the enemization of everything.”

Over the past nine-and-a-half years, this department has grown exponentially to employ more than 240,000 Americans around a principle that in order to innoculate our population against an attack by an invisible enemy we must first “enemize” everything, treating each and every living thing (and at times even non-living electronic entities) as if she, he, they or it were plotting the next attack on our homeland. The private sector has also seen unfettered growth around its ability to monetize “the enemization of everything,” from developing security technologies in response to unforeseen “enemies” to using the specter of terrorism to draft and fast-track model legislation that serves business interests.

While taking a position that everything is an “enemy” can make it harder for an “enemy” to execute his or her plans, it also creates an ugly, fear-driven environment that sows seeds of distrust, from misplaced suspicions about your neighbor’s religious or political affiliations to fears of crowds or airplanes. Moreover, this “enemization of everything” has been observed to have a profound psychological impact on some individuals. For some, being told over and over by peers or media that they are “an enemy” makes them want to react by becoming that enemy. After surviving a decade rife with violent outbursts and mass shootings, we as a nation cannot afford to ignore the psychological impacts of our post-9/11 terror culture and security-industrial complex on the moral fabric of our communities.

I intend to use my directorship here at the Department of Homeland Security to transform this agency into a restorative agency. To do so we must first undo this prerequisite “enemization” model. We then need to reach an understanding that terrorism, whether political or apolitical like a shooting in a movie theater, almost always has an origin. These origins should be treated as wounds that we as an agency have a responsibility to heal. If we as an agency can isolate these origins on various cultural, systematic or personal levels, we can begin to heal the wounds that jeopardize our security.

From deeply personal individual battles with cancer to the global war on terror, human responses to these acute onslaughts are almost always reactionary and seldom preventative.

Amid the immediacy of our tragedies we rarely question what brought us to those malignant moments; instead we desperately reach for quick fixes — surgery, chemotherapy, torture, drones, carpet-bombing. In the global war on terror, preventative medicine is often practiced as pre-emptive military action, rendition, entrapment, torture and sanctions. These means never challenge the cultural roots of the problem and often serve as a tool for terrorist recruitment.

Like flourishing bacterial cultures in a petri dish, terrorism is a symptomatic cultural reflex that can be easily seen growing out of its own hospitable environments. Oppression, poverty, inadequate education, constant subjugation to the accepted institutionalized abuse of animals and a lack of individual autonomy are the stagnant waters in which this global disease of terrorism takes root and grows. As secretary, I intend to use this agency to analyze, isolate and ultimately treat the prerequisite events that give way to future acts of violence.

To make this agency a restorative agency, not only must we speak in a restorative manner, but our actions and our policies must also promote restoration.

Many of my detractors have speculated about my proposed policy changes, some have gone as far as to call them “treasonous.” I will reserve any comments regarding my policy plans for a later date, but can assure those detractors that I fully intend to re-write their script of “enemization” to an American story of empathy and healing.


Andy Stepanian
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security


This beautifully illustrated special edition of The Indypendent is a powerful testimonial of the alternatives we can create. A list of distribution locations are available here, a .pdf download is available here.

The State of the Occupation Address, 7pm This Monday at Housing Works

The State of the Occupation Address, 7pm This Monday at Housing Works

A Discussion & Launch for the Declaration of The Occupation, 2nd Ed.
7PM, JANUARY 30TH, 2012

Directions | RSVP via Facebook

Join Dr. Benjamin Chavis, co-founder of Occupy the Dream; Allison Kilkenny, contributor for The Nation, In These Times and co-host of Citizen Radio; Malik Rhasaan, co-founder of Occupy the Hood; Rachel Schragis, designer of the Flow Chart of the Declaration of the Occupation of NYC, Steven Syrek of the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library and Ryan Devereaux reporter for The Guardian by way of Democracy Now! along with Julie Gueraseva and Andy Stepanian of The Sparrow Project as they discuss where Occupy has taken us, where it can bring us, and what to expect in 2012.

The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City 2nd ed. booklet is a collection of the official statements drafted by the New York City General Assembly, a Letter from the Occupiers at Tahrir Square to the Occupiers of Wall Street, and an expanded resource list for occupiers to organize and network with. Taking inspiration from the pamphlet that sparked the Mai 1968 uprisings in Paris, France, the crowd-funded, design-savvy Declaration has already received acclaim from Vanity Fair, Current Television, and other forward-thinking media outlets.

20,000 copies of The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City will be made available for free during the event. Attendees are encouraged to each take a bundle and help distribute them around the city.

To view the event page on the Housing Works website use  THIS LINK

To view & RSVP the facebook event page for the event use THIS LINK

Democracy Now! Invites Will Potter, Marshall Curry & Andy Stepanian to Discuss ‘If a Tree Falls’

Democracy Now! Invites Will Potter, Marshall Curry & Andy Stepanian to Discuss ‘If a Tree Falls’

Today Andy Stepanian of the Sparrow Project, Will Potter, author of Green is the New Red, and Marshal Curry were invited on Democracy Now to discuss ‘If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front Curry’s new documentary about the life of Daniel McGowan and the Earth Liberation Front. ‘If a Tree Falls’ will premier nation-wide on wednesday after a successful and critically acclaimed stint on the festival circuit.

To watch the full interview visit — http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/21/if_a_tree_falls_new_documentary

If a Tree Falls will be screening from June 22nd to the 28th at The IFC theatre located at 323 6th avenue (at west 3rd street) in NYC.

For a full list of the screenings at the IFC visit — http://www.ifccenter.com/films/if-a-tree-falls-a-story-of-the-earth-liberation-front/

For a list of screenings nationally visit — http://ifatreefallsfilm.com/screenings.html

Daniel McGowan is currently being housed in the Communications Management Unit (CMU) at the United States Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. In a controversial ruling an Oregon court ruled that McGowan’s acts of property destruction as part of the ELF although wholly non-violent were to be considered acts of terrorism and designated McGowan as such. The CMU is a designer penal program aimed at severely restricting the communications of McGowan and other specially designated inmates like him as well as cutting off their access to the outside world. This includes a ban on contact visitation with immediate family members.

Daniel and all of the men housed at the CMU need your support! For a list of things that you can do to support Daniel McGowan as well as information about Daniels case visit — http://supportdaniel.org/

To learn what you can do to fight for the rights of prisoners secretly held within CMUs the Center For Constitutional Rights has set up a webpage dedicated to the CMU at — http://ccrjustice.org/cmu-factsheet


Presentation at Green Mountain College, 4/28

Presentation at Green Mountain College, 4/28

Vermont!  We will be presenting at Green Mountain College & we’d love to see you there!

Thursday, April 28th 7pm
Terrace 124,
Green Mountain College
1 Brennan Circle
Poultney, VT

RSVP here via Facebook*

Andy Stepanian, cofounder of the Sparrow Media Project & defendant in the SHAC7 trial will dissect contemporary activist movements, highlighting which tactics are working, when they work best, and how a diversity of tactics often yield the largest benefit. Andy will reflect on his past involvement with non-violent direct action movements, his role in the campaign to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences, as well as his current with Sparrow work as a grassroots activism PR consultant.

Subversive Activism Workshop at NYU

Subversive Activism Workshop at NYU

Andy Stepanian, cofounder of the Sparrow Media Project & defendant in the landmark SHAC7 trial will dissect contemporary activist movements, highlighting which tactics are working, when they work best, and how a diversity of tactics often yield the largest benefit. Andy will reflect on his past involvement with non-violent direct action movements, his role in the campaign to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences, as well as his current with Sparrow work as a grassroots activism PR consultant.

Join us on Tuesday, April 26 at NYU’s Kimmel Center, Room 803 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM

You can RSVP this event on facebook HERE*