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Scapegoats of September 11th

Hate Crimes & State Crimes in the War on Terror

Michael Welch

Publication Year: 2006

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.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Contents

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pp. vi-vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

September 11, 2001, is a date that will continue to resonate sharply into the foreseeable future. Still, that day in history is not a static reminder of past atrocities. On the contrary, 9/11 is a dynamic emotional signifier of the present and beyond, capable of evoking not only intense grief but also anxiety, fear, and anger. Regrettably, in post-9/11 America, much of that outrage has been targeted at innocent...

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Chapter 1: Talking About Terror

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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...

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Chapter 2: Seeking a Safer Society

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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...

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Chapter 3: Scapegoating and Social Insecurity

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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...

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Chapter 4: Crusading Against Terror

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pp. 46-61

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. At a higher level of consciousness, all of those problems—and many more unforeseen ones—seemed cosmically linked to powerful...

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Chapter 5: Hate Crimes as Backlash Violence

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pp. 62-76

The impulsive hostility that Orwell describes projects a hatred that is not only intense but also flexible since it is capable of rotating from one target to another. In important ways, that idea reflects the conceptual inner workings of risk society theory insofar as hate crimes serve as a potent site of social anxiety. Violence motivated by hate, especially aimed at innocent victims, represents one of the most vivid manifestations of scapegoating. ...

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Chapter 6: Profiling and Detention in Post-9/11 America

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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...

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Chapter 7: State Crimes in the War on Terror

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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...

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Chapter 8: Claiming Effectiveness

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pp. 126-144

Alogical 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...

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Chapter 9: Assaulting Civil Liberties

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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...

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Chapter 10: Culture of Denial

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pp. 164-185

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...

Notes

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pp. 187-190

Cases

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pp. 191-

References

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pp. 193-218

Index

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pp. 219-222

About the Author

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pp. 223-


E-ISBN-13: 9780813541396
E-ISBN-10: 0813541395
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813538952
Print-ISBN-10: 0813538955

Page Count: 238
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Critical Issues in Crime and Society
Series Editor Byline: Raymond Michalowski

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Subject Headings

  • Arab Americans -- Crimes against -- United States.
  • Islamophobia -- United States.
  • Prejudices -- United States.
  • Hate crimes -- United States.
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001 -- Influence.
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009 -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • State crimes -- United States.
  • Civil rights -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
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