The War on Terror in Our Communities

As an anti-war activist and mother, for many years I’ve been acutely aware that we have been at war my teenage daughter’s entire life. March 20 is the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We are now living in a time when an entire generation of young people — including new Marine recruits and newly registered voters — have grown up with war as a routine condition. And most of the public is unaware that more than 244,000 civilians have been killed and that the U.S. continues to conduct “counter-terror” activities in 80 countries.

The endless “war on terror” has multiple fronts, no clear conditions for ending, and has become so normalized as to be almost invisible. Yet perhaps even more obscured is the war on terror within the U.S., that targets and criminalizes entire communities – particularly Muslims, immigrants, and Black and brown people. As Deepa Kumar, professor of media studies at Rutgers University, has written, when the U.S. goes to war, “the end goal is to win consent for an imperial agenda through a process that orchestrates fear of the enemy within and preempts criticisms of empire-building.”

Learning from targeted U.S. communities experiencing the war on terror every day, I believe we must shed light on these policies of state violence and advocate for their end.

What Is the War on Terror Framework?

The war on terror writ large rests on the foundational belief that Islam is inherently violent, contrary to “Western values,” and that all Muslims should be viewed with fear and suspicion. These racist and damaging narratives have led to the creation of dangerous policies that are not based on facts or science. But by stoking Islamophobia, the government has successfully convinced many in the U.S. to trade our rights – including our rights to privacy, free speech, and equal protection — for the promise of “security.”

These policies are both foreign and…

Read more