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This is an old revision of EventTheExecutiveOrder made by BaxilDragon on 2007-08-15 19:11:37.

 

The Executive Order


The political attack that fueled EventTheMeeting reached its peak when President Bill Clinton issued an executive order establishing what amounted to internment camps for therianthropes and mages.

Event Information


Date: Monday, Jan. 6, 1997 Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Also Known As: Officially, its name was Executive Order 13037: Establishing Voluntary Relocation Centers For The Protection Of Changed Americans.

Summary

In 1996, despite right-wing religious groups' dire predictions of armageddon, therianthropes' popularity seemed invincible. Warnings about their intentions were dismissed as sour grapes; the media treated them as heroes, especially in the wake of the EventLosAngelesRiots.

But EventTheFlyby shattered this image, galvanizing their frustrated opponents. Then the most visible symbol of the world's new changes, CharacterDennisRedwing, went on the defensive, bogged down in a fight of his own: EventRedwingVsTheFBI. With the tide of public opinion shifting and fresh new examples of theri misbehavior and rebellion at hand, the political backlash found the foothold it needed.

Conservative politicians and the Religious Right shifted into high gear, unleashing a propaganda attack and rallying political capital. The Flyby Three and Redwing were held up as "proof" theris were all dangerous lawbreakers trying to "get away with murder"; the EventLosAngelesRiots and other events and cherry-picked quotes became evidence of theris' intentions to subjugate Christianity. Right-wing politicians announced a special legislative session to deal with this "problem."

Against this backdrop, the White House made headlines by announcing what would come to be called "The Executive Order" -- establishing relocation centers for theris (and mages) with one stroke of a pen, and requesting that all such Americans turn themselves in within 72 hours to one of the listed armed forces bases for processing and temporary housing.

Immediate Reaction

The order drew some guarded praise, but also fierce and immediate criticism -- which would only grow as details of the plan spread.

For instance, the order made a big deal of the relocation being 'voluntary" -- and an equally big deal, in smaller print, that after the 72-hour grace period, the government reserved the right to forcibly relocate theris "as necessary for public safety and order." And the camps were only for theris and mages -- a fact underlined by media appearances from a number of tearful spouses, children and parents.

Civil libertarians, naturally, were livid. And many ethnic groups -- including Japanese-Americans and Jews, who could both testify to the ominous nature of mass "relocation" -- immediately condemned the plan. However, while theris did speak out against the order, their response seemed oddly subdued.

Redwing's only public response -- until the declaration in the wake of EventTheMeeting -- was a statement shortly after EventTheExecutiveOrder: "I'm sorry that our leaders have allowed fear to overwhelm their common sense and conscience. I hope America will use the next three days to demand a better solution. I have no further comment at this time." Those close to him were more impassioned but equally evasive: "This is a black mark on our nation's soul, and I think we all now have a choice to make."

The theris that did talk to the media emphasized the overreach of the order: The alleged problems that it was meant to address were ... well, largely, a handful of recalcitrant dragons. The order tarred thousands of law-abiding theris, and many people whose only crime was having figured out how to change the world with their mind, with the same brush.

The far right wing -- cornered into leaping to the order's defense, or into arguing that it didn't go far enough -- added to the public backlash by revealing what their special legislative plan would have been: A constitutional amendment declaring therianthropes to officially not be human (and thus have no inherent rights). This overreach shifted political momentum back toward theris ... at least until word spread of The Meeting.

Aftereffects

EventTheMeeting would quickly transform EventTheExecutiveOrder into little more than a historical footnote. But the idea of internment camps lingered for far longer, especially among the reactionary fringe. During the first of the EventWildernessClosures in 1997, a bumper sticker briefly made the rounds of far-right groups: "Let me have my camps. (icon of tent) Let them have theirs. (icon of barbed wire fence)"

To many theris, the camps would become symbolic of government mistreatment -- and a permanent wedge of distrust. In no small part, this is why CharacterDennisRedwing's later cooperation with authorities was viewed with such bitterness.

A small number of theris actually did cooperate with the Order before word of The Meeting spread. One such group was forced off of a military base at gunpoint (see EventTheMeeting for details). Their subsequent lawsuit against the U.S. government ultimately failed, and they would spend several months afterward trying to escape media attention and public harassment.


Timeline


All times are local

Further Reading


Story Appearances
The following 11 page(s) belong to EventTheExecutiveOrder

CategoryEras [Eras of TTU]
CharacterBenJacobs [Characters: Ben Jacobs]
CharacterDennisRedwingQuotes [Dennis Redwing Quotes]
EraNationOnTheBrink [Era: Nation On The Brink]
EraSchismAndStalemate [Era: Schism And Stalemate]
EraWinterOfDiscontent [Era: Winter of Discontent]
EventTheMeeting [The Meeting]
ProposedIdeas [High-profile political outing (KadyG)]
StoryGrudge [Stories: Grudge]
StoryKenneth [Stories: Kenneth]
StoryTracks [Stories: Tracks]

Story Excerpts
"x." - x

Other Associated Pages
The following 11 page(s) belong to EventTheExecutiveOrder

CategoryEras [Eras of TTU]
CharacterBenJacobs [Characters: Ben Jacobs]
CharacterDennisRedwingQuotes [Dennis Redwing Quotes]
EraNationOnTheBrink [Era: Nation On The Brink]
EraSchismAndStalemate [Era: Schism And Stalemate]
EraWinterOfDiscontent [Era: Winter of Discontent]
EventTheMeeting [The Meeting]
ProposedIdeas [High-profile political outing (KadyG)]
StoryGrudge [Stories: Grudge]
StoryKenneth [Stories: Kenneth]
StoryTracks [Stories: Tracks]


Other Information


Motivations

The full political history behind the Order was never made clear, and probably won't be until notes and recordings from that era are fully declassified. But historians have identified several factors that almost certainly went into the White House's decision.

The official explanation -- that it was political triangulation designed to split the right wing and close the door to their proposed constitutional amendment -- does hold some weight; certainly, there was a great deal of maneuvering, back-room phone calls, arm-twisting, and negotiation. The timing of The Order took the wind out of the sails of Republican politicians poised for a special legislative session. But viewed as a bold political maneuver, it was a tremendous gamble for an administration known for its caution and centrism.

The speeches, press releases and talking points of the time paint a picture of an administration focused on public safety, and again, there is some weight to this explanation. The overheated rhetoric of the time was having an effect, with hate crimes seeing a sudden spike and signs of unrest again becoming visible across the country. In hindsight, relocation camps were a huge overreaction to these phenomena, but physical separation would have calmed tempers and eased fears; the White House conceivably could have convinced itself that internment was a legitimate and noble response.

Another factor not getting much public mention but almost certainly playing a role was the simmering feud with CharacterDennisRedwing. EventRedwingVsTheFBI was a direct slap to the government after its aggressive response to EventTheFlyby; Clinton may have been receiving some pressure from the intelligence/law enforcement communities, or may have even taken Redwing's stand personally after Redwing tried to judo the issue into the political arena.

Notes

I recall a bumper-sticker from twenty years ago that read: "There will never be concentration camps in America: they'll be called something else!"
- Butler Shaffer (1)

Writing Tips

It can be difficult to write well about large political events; there's a tendency to cast it as a struggle between people Doing Good and people Doing Evil. In reality, this is almost never the case. Actions of this magnitude put everyone on the defensive -- even (perhaps most of all) the politicians responsible, since they have to live with the reputation of their own decisions. Once the stakes get this high, most politicians will barely dare to breathe without consulting the tea leaves of popular opinion.

Some claimed that Clinton was making an underhanded power grab -- provoke war with theris, and then stage a military coup once chaos truly reigned -- but the reality is that his hand was largely forced by political pressure from multiple sides and a continued threat to public safety. Whether or not the idea of dictatorial power was tempting him, a failed coup would not only have ended his political career but also put him down permanently in the history books as a villain. A career politician simply wouldn't take that chance unless he could be certain of the outcome, and even before the Order he was aware of the possibility of a disgruntled mage wreaking havoc with some act of terror. Given the way the Order was softpedaled, the administration obviously knew that even internment was overreaching; but they couldn't afford to do anything less.

The same principle was true for the other major players in the drama. All of them would have told you they were just reacting to the events surrounding them, and that they weren't going beyond what was strictly necessary at the time.

Ultimately, the political drama wasn't over the theri showdown; it was over the battle for public opinion. Clinton was gambling he could convince the nation the Order was a more peaceful solution than doing nothing and dealing with continued unrest. As the stakes continued to rise, that pretense had to be dropped; and that was largely the reason the rollback was inevitable.


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