This may come as a surprise to those of you who know how jaded I am, but reading that Civil Rights-era photographer Ernest Mathers was exposed as an FBI informant last week really shocked me. What would compel someone to do such a thing? And how did no one figure it out sooner?

In left-wing activist circles, what do government moles look like? Some are decidedly “fresh-faced” young women, others assume the wise elder role, but a lot of them? They’re attractive, charismatic dudes. (Not counting the agents provocateurs in black bloc/GTO protests and Hal Turner, of course.)

Last week Mikki Halpin tweeted this article: Why Misogynists Make Great Informants. The central premise is interesting and credible — look at Brandon Darby (who is mentioned) and Rob Gilchrist. (I was reminded of Tanja Nijmeijer’s story of her experience as part of FARC.) Ultimately, however, the article failed to fully make the connection between “activist leaders can be chauvinist, manipulative, misogynist assholes” and “by extension, they willingly rat out their organizations.” Still, what is indisputable is that people of color, women and trans* members of activist communities are demeaned, subjugated, and treated like footservants by paternalist egomaniacs with Christ complexes. It’s worth the read.

Meanwhile, our tax dollars (via OHS) are paying for do-nothing private “contractors” for “intelligence on terrorism threats” despite the fact that the Pennsylvania State Police are already tasked with doing just this as part of, um, their JOB:

Adrian R. King Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) until late 2005, said the state police’s Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center has trained analysts who supply intelligence information and investigative data to help law enforcement counter potential threats.

Instead, he said, the state was paying the Philadelphia-based Institute on Terrorism Research and Response for little more than a compilation of planned public demonstrations by activist groups, including antiwar, environmental, and animal-rights advocates.

I question the legitimacy of these sorts of surveillance programs to begin with, okay, but c’mon folks, if you’re focusing on potential domestic terrorist threats in the state of Pennsylvania and all you can come up with are radical environmentalist potlucks, that’s like trying to study homicides in Florida and overlooking all the serial killers.

*My office mate and I were talking about Chumbawamba the other day, and how everyone learns about them the same way: You’re 17 and someone plays Anarchy for you and you’re like THIS IS AWESOME and then you go to the record store and you accidentally buy that one album of 18th-century anarchist folk songs and you’re like FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

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