After Terrorism

Photograph Source SchuminWeb Wikicommons

President Trump bashing the free press, F.B.I., allies, human rights, and immigrants illustrates how the national preoccupation with terrorism and the politics of fear has taken a toll on our discourse, civility and a wide range of domestic policies and international relations. Many actions since 9/11 are consistent with a Terrorism Narrative, which justifies extraordinary measures at home and abroad against terrorists and related threats, including torture, kidnapping, civilian casualties, threats to children, as well as expansive domestic surveillance and control. This narrative treats terrorism as an ongoing condition rather than as a tactic used by a definable enemy in a specific country. I suggest that the terrorism narrative will endure after the objective threat of terrorists has subsided.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the terrorism narrative spanned at least three Presidents. In 2004, President George W. Bush used the words terrorism/terrorist 16 times (but did not mention immigration) in his acceptance speech for a second term of office. Under his guidance, the United States authorized use of military force, started two wars, engaged in torture in secret places, killed more civilians, passed the Patriot Act—(H.R.3162) – Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism–and initiated massive warrantless electronic surveillance of U. S. citizens.

A new…

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