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Scapegoats of September 11th

Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes & State Crimes in the War on Terror

Michael Welch
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 238
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  • Book Info
    Scapegoats of September 11th
    Book Description:

    From its largest cities to deep within its heartland, from its heavily trafficked airways to its meandering country byways, America has become a nation racked by anxiety about terrorism and national security. In response to the fears prompted by the tragedy of September 11th, the country has changed in countless ways. Airline security has tightened, mail service is closely examined, and restrictions on civil liberties are more readily imposed by the government and accepted by a wary public.The altered American landscape, however, includes more than security measures and ID cards. The country's desperate quest for security is visible in many less obvious, yet more insidious ways. In Scapegoats of September 11th, criminologist Michael Welch argues that the "war on terror" is a political charade that delivers illusory comfort, stokes fear, and produces scapegoats used as emotional relief. Regrettably, much of the outrage that resulted from 9/11 has been targeted at those not involved in the attacks on the Pentagon or the Twin Towers. As this book explains, those people have become the scapegoats of September 11th. Welch takes on the uneasy task of sorting out the various manifestations of displaced aggression, most notably the hate crimes and state crimes that have become embarrassing hallmarks both at home and abroad.Drawing on topics such as ethnic profiling, the Abu Ghraib scandal, Guantanamo Bay, and the controversial Patriot Act, Welch looks at the significance of knowledge, language, and emotion in a post-9/11 world. In the face of popular and political cheerleading in the war on terror, this book presents a careful and sober assessment, reminding us that sound counterterrorism policies must rise above, rather than participate in, the propagation of bigotry and victimization.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4139-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    Michael Welch
  4. CHAPTER ONE Talking About Terror
    (pp. 3-18)

    In so many ways, September 11, 2001, bisects history, altering the way people speak, think, and feel about the world around them. Whereas the United States has pockets of political violence scattered throughout its past, until recently it has yet to withstand the full force of a devastating terrorist attack. To say that America changed on September 11 is more than a cliché; the nation’s identity as a target—and victim—resonates both symbolically and substantively. As this volume sets out to examine, America is experiencing major shifts in its social, political, and cultural landscape as it searches for a...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Seeking a Safer Society
    (pp. 19-34)

    Safety has emerged as a dominant social theme in a post-9/11 America. Indeed, protection against terrorist attacks echoes in the chorus of campaign politics. While trying vigorously to extract votes from an already nervous electorate, Vice President Dick Cheney warned: “It is absolutely essential that eight weeks from today on November 2, we make the right choice because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll be hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States” (Sanger and Halbfinger 2004, A1). Democratic vice presidential candidate...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Scapegoating and Social Insecurity
    (pp. 35-45)

    Political leaders in the United States depict the problem of terrorism in richly coded mystical rhetoric, issuing broad proclamations about the threat of evil and evildoers, along with the axis of evil (Frum and Perle 2003; Kirkpatrick 2004a; Nunberg 2004). Framing the issue in that manner reflects and reinforces not only public fear of terrorism, but also an undifferentiated social anxiety over national security, economic woes, crime, racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, and foreigners. Those tensions compound the need to assign blame even if it means falsely accusing innocent persons for terrorism along with a host of other social problems. That phenomenon,...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Crusading Against Terror
    (pp. 46-61)

    James Carroll, in his timely bookCrusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War(2004a), puts into perspective significant events in the new millennium. We are reminded that as year 2000 approached there was growing anxiety over possibly abrupt changes in the world. The so-called Y2K problem loomed large on the consciousness of people across the globe. At a practical level there was technological anxiety over whether computers would collectively fail to adjust for the new numerical date, forcing a massive shut down. Virtually everything even remotely reliant on computers would be adversely affected, from automatic money machines to air traffic controlling....

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Hate Crimes as Backlash Violence
    (pp. 62-76)

    George Orwell, in his futuristic novel,1984, describes a ritual labeled the “Daily Two Minutes of Hate.” Fortifying vitriol and violence, the routine has a distinct communal dimension that facilitates collective and expressive punishment.

    The horrible thing about the Two Minutes of Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces with a sledge-hammer seemed to flow through the whole people like...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Profiling and Detention in Post-9/11 America
    (pp. 77-101)

    Since the 1970s, the criminal justice apparatus in United States has undergone significantly punitive transformations. Evidenced by a commitment to such hard-line tactics as mass imprisonment, there is widespread recognition of a culture of control whereby conservative measures continue to gain considerable political and popular support (Garland 2002, 2001;Welch 2005a, 2004d). The events surrounding September 11 have not only reinforced a culture of control in America but also played a key role in methods involving profiling and detention. However, as we shall see in this chapter, such practices disproportionately target innocent persons, raising questions of scapegoating. The prevailing pattern in...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN State Crimes in the War on Terror
    (pp. 102-125)

    Events following September 11 have greatly compounded problems in a post-9/11 world, most notably the misguided military actions by the U.S. government. In the span of a few short years, America has gone from being viewed with tremendous sympathy to being despised around much of the globe, in large part due to the invasion of Iraq, along with a host of illegal and unjust tactics in the war on terror (Knowlton 2005). For the United States as an unrivaled superpower, the attacks on 9/11 merely hardened an already strong sense of entitlement; therefore, the war on terrorism represents an impulse...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Claiming Effectiveness
    (pp. 126-144)

    A logical and reasonable method of assessing what works in counterterrorism is to examine recent outcomes of policies and practices, particularly in the realm of law enforcement and prosecution. In doing so, tangible evidence is uncovered, forming a basis for reality checks that assist in determining overall effectiveness (Welch 2004d). That approach to evaluation also invites close scrutiny into problems and errors, especially when the mistakes are so egregious that they erode public confidence in government and its capacity to protect citizens from threats of terrorism. Recent moves by some law enforcement officials have been nothing less than embarrassing, domestically...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Assaulting Civil Liberties
    (pp. 145-163)

    Numerous legal scholars and civil liberties advocates remind us that in an atmosphere of fear, the government embarked on legislation that has dramatically altered the legal landscape of post-9/11 America (Cole and Dempsey 2002; Gross 2003; Hentoff 2003c). So much so that many constitutionally protected rights hang in the balance of decision making over how to enforce newly enacted provisions in the war on terror. As pointed out in previous chapters, the Justice Department—backed by the Patriot Act—has recklessly resorted to the round-ups, detentions, and deportations of Middle Eastern men who have no ties to terrorism. Consequently, those...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Culture of Denial
    (pp. 164-186)

    Given that American counterterrorism policies and practices continue to blend the metaphors and realities of war, it is important to consider cultural and social psychological products of the war on terror. In his deeply insightful book,War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Chris Hedges chronicles his experiences as a war correspondent in nations engulfed by conflict. Among his revelations are cultural transformations that fuel the myth of war. Offering a potent rationalization for aggression, the myth of war consumes people, altering their social world in ways that allow them to crystallize their identity as well as the identities...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 187-190)
  15. List of Cases
    (pp. 191-192)
    (pp. 193-218)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 219-222)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-224)