American tradition lives on at Area 51

Nketiah Berko, Views Editor

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area 51

Czars Trinidad | Senior Staff Artist

Nketiah Berko is a writer who is definitely human and not at all an alien.

In the course of human events, the conscience of a nation is occasionally awakened. From the storming of the Bastille to Tiananmen Square, the power of the people asserts itself against oppressive, often secretive regimes. On Sept. 20, this populist tradition will rear its head once more as nearly two million people plan to storm Area 51, the mysterious military base in Nevada. 

For years, Area 51 has been a lightning rod for conspiracy theories, most notable being the purported detention of extraterrestrials inside the fenced compound. Though the government has never confirmed or denied their existence, these otherworldly inmates are likely being held under Title 50, Chapter 3 of the U.S. Code, a revised version of the 1798 Alien Enemies Act. This statute permits the “[apprehension], [restraint]… and [removal] of noncitizens from hostile nations as ‘alien enemies.’” In the true spirit of America, an 18th century holdover has thus been used to justify present-day injustice. 

But this is more than simply a question of legality. As Americans, we have always with the exception of the Italians, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Africans, Mexicans, Syrians, Guatemalans and Vietnamese been accommodating to those from faraway lands. Some may mock the focus on Area 51 while other issues persist. Fortunately, the complaints of these naysayers cannot negate the mass movement poised to descend on the base on Sept. 20. If the rumors of alien incarceration are true, our country faces a moral outrage witnessed only in the criminal justice systems of the most totalitarian countries and Texas. 

The arrest of two Dutch YouTubers at the site only underscores our government’s opacity. With a few minor exceptions the Pentagon Papers, COINTELPRO, the Snowden National Security Agency leaks, the Manning Afghan and Iraq War Logsthe Tuskegee syphilis experiments, Watergate, and probably others 30 years away from being declassified the U.S. government has long committed itself to transparency. At this historic moment, we the people only ask that this noble tradition of state malfeasance spare those aliens who were not fortunate enough to have been captured by Canada instead.

Our government’s unwillingness to be forthright about such a pressing issue must be confronted. As our country, and indeed our planet, face existential threats in the forms of climate change, wealth inequality and others, we cannot allow these real, tangible crises to distract us from fictional, manufactured ones. Luckily, the remedy of mass protest has always been one of our most potent tools in asserting our power as a collective citizenry. The groundswell of support for the Area 51 raid remains, like a UFO sighting in the American Southwest, a bright, albeit likely hallucinogenic, beacon of hope for the ideal of government accountability to the people. 

From the Bay Area to Boston, the American people cry out with one voice. The illegal detention taking place under government supervision cannot nay, must not be allowed to continue unabated in any place not named Guantanamo Bay. Potentially millions of our universal compatriots remain locked behind bars, perhaps suffering unfathomable fates such as forced labor, solitary confinement or even state-sanctioned execution. Our attention cannot be turned away from such un-American horrors. We’re better than this aren’t we?