An Exorcism in Downtown Manhattan

2017 0406excorcismWhile fascism busts loose, naked on the national stage, each day brings a new frontier of depravity. Faced with this dangerous reality, the sheer scale of protest and resistance that is needed can seem bewildering and insurmountable. At the root of this broad new era of organizing, however, is the defense of basic democratic rights, including the most fundamental: freedom of thought.

Thoughts and ideas are metaphysical, and policing those same is a metaphysical endeavor. However, the thought police are real, and their banal tools exist in real locations. Even the Tower of Babel had a street address. Recently, investigative reporting from The Intercept based on Snowden documents and other sources revealed that the NSA controls several floors of the AT&T building at 33 Thomas St.in downtown Manhattan. This massive windowless skyscraper, designed to withstand a nuclear war, was described by its own architect as a “20th century fortress, with spears and arrows replaced by protons and neutrons laying quiet siege to an army of machines within.” Inside this stone fortress, shaped like a tombstone, they are busy monitoring the traces of our lives: a subscription, a proscription, a late night phone call, taxes and bills, a film watched, an article read, etc.

Why Does This Matter?

It is now public knowledge that the NSA and other branches of the government, in partnership with major corporations, are spying on hundreds of millions of Americans and collecting personal data that is permanently stored for future reference. When confronted with this loss of privacy, many people say, “But I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to fear; it doesn’t matter.”

If you are aware that you are constantly being watched, you will find it dangerous to step outside of the norm or the law, however vile the norms and laws may be. As people, we formulate original, non-conformist ideas when we have solitude within our minds and are at peace with our own thoughts — when we are alone. With surveillance everywhere this becomes impossible; there is no solitude or self. Without privacy we lose autonomy, constantly bearing in mind the potential social or legal repercussions of a thought or feeling.

Even with “nothing to hide,” the issue of mass surveillance and personal privacy directly impacts the most essential right of each person: the right to act as an individual. The totalitarian data collection facility, codenamed “Titanpointe” exists instrict opposition to the Self, to citizenship and to democracy. This discussion between Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky explains this issue clearly and in depth:

Snowden, Chomsky, and Greenwald discuss privacy from The Intercept on Vimeo.

Why Are We Exorcising?

In an ultimate act of hubris, the government has attempted to make an omniscient force, a false god — we must cast out this idol. In order to confront this metaphysical foe, we at The Quiet American Review are staging a street protest employing metaphysical and symbolic tactics, namely The Exorcism.

On April 15th at 12 pm, a cadre of priests, supplicants and a volunteer choir affiliated with The Quiet American Review will exorcise the malevolent energy and information coursing through the AT&T monolith at 33 Thomas Street in New York City. This sacred day falls approximately one day before the rising of Christ and three days before tax day.

We approach this exorcism in the spirit of the 1967 levitation and exorcism of the Pentagon, performed by The Fugs, Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman. In 1968, Ginsberg and The Fugs also performed an exorcism of the grave of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.