My Authors
Read all threads
OK, I've got a little story about how I and my one-year-old son became targets of efforts to disrupt and counter "extremism" in the UK. This involves @XRebellionUK, the "Prevent" program, the Thames Valley Police, and the Wolfson College Day Nursery of the @UniofOxford. Ready?
First, for background: it was revealed in January that the UK police had issued guidance to schools and nurseries to watch out for signs of radicalization among their kids, including involvement in the School Strike for Climate and @XRebellionUK…
This is part of the long-running Islamophobic "Prevent" program, which tries to instill "British values" at all levels of the education system, public and private, and impose penalties for not doing enough to "counter radicalization".…
During 2018-19, my wife was on sabbatical, and we moved the whole family, including our newborn son, to Oxford, England, for a year. We enrolled our older kids in a girls' school and our son in the Wolfson College Day Nursery.
We found that the nursery had been rated "Inadequate" by the regulator OFSTED, in part because "Staff do not receive sufficient support to protect children who may be at risk of harm from extreme views and behaviours." Bear in mind - these are toddlers.
On February 8, 2019, there was a School Strike For Climate / @XRebellionUK protest in Oxford. My 12-year-old twins got permission from their teachers to go; I volunteered to escort them and their friends. It was a sweet event, with signs saying things like "There Is No Planet B"
But my little son had a fever that morning, and the nursery called. So I collected him, put him in a sling, and he slept peacefully against me throughout the protest. So far, so good. But then I got a call. The nursery director and the Bursar of @WolfsonCollege wanted a meeting.
So on February 12, 2019, I went in, and I was told that a nursery worker had seen me at the protest, with my son sleeping around me, and that they HAD TO INTERVENE to SAFEGUARD him because I had PUT HIM IN DANGER. They had already "put in an anonymous report to social services."
If I did it again, they told me, they would report me "with names."

Being acculturated as an American, my response was, "Why is this any of your business?"

It wasn't till this year's news reports came out that I figured out why they did it. It was PREVENT.
See, it's obviously hard for a nursery to show to OFSTED that they are in fact doing everything they need to do to prevent their infants from being radicalized.

My taking him to this protest must have seemed like manna from heaven.
Wolfson Nursery could report me for "endangering" my son, and come inspection time, say, "See? We're no longer inadequate at preventing radicalization among our infants."

And I can only talk about this now because, back home in Massachusetts, we're safely beyond their reach.
So I highlight this to make the following points:

- PREVENT suppresses peaceful political activism of any kind that the police happen not to like, and encourages people to rat you out to the authorities.
- The US has "Preventing Violent Extremism" programs inspired by PREVENT.
- @WolfsonCollege doesn't appear to care about participating in inhibiting adults' freedom of expression and association if it means a better government rating for their nursery.
- The philosophy of "Safeguarding" seems to have led the UK to lose its grip on civil liberties.
- Last, lest we think of this as just a UK thing, the @FBI has a sorry track record of surveilling and harassing what they call
"eco-terrorists", who have caused exactly zero deaths in the United States.

Governments want to narrow the Overton Window; let's not let them.
[Note: I'm not noting this because it's like OMG THE WORST SUFFERING FROM GOVT SURVEILLANCE EVAR. I'm noting it because the whole enterprise of detecting and countering "radicalization" among infants is obviously stupid and oppressive. And yet here we are.]
[Also, before posting this story, I got in touch with the nursery and with the @WolfsonCollege Bursar to give them the opportunity to comment. No comment was forthcoming.]
[Should have led the thread with "Now this is a story all about how / My life got flipped turned upside down"

The French call this "l'esprit de l'escalier"]
A great new article today on how "counter-radicalization" plays out in the US, with a focus on my home community of Boston, Massachusetts. It's not yet in nurseries, but it's still plenty disturbing.…
And here's the UN weighing in on the risks of "counter-radicalization" programs like Prevent:…
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Alex Marthews 🌺

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!