The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present
One of the reasons that the Right hangs on so tenaciously to the term “War on Terror” is that the term gives whatever Bush does the illusion of having an unmerited moral weight; the Right is on a mission, a grand noble cause that preventing and punishing terrorists deserves a grand title. Even the word terrorism itself has taken on a certain awed reverence. Terrorist are nothing more or less then international criminals. They do have a convoluted perverse set of beliefs, but those kinds of motivations are not foreign to a nation that went through a bloody Civil War and has seen the likes of the Oklahoma City bombing by Christian Identity sympathizer Timothy Mcveigh to a myriad of homegrown conservative terrorists. To call fighting terrorism another kind of crime problem, obit complicated gulls the Right because because it robs it of the grandeur and old world machismo of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’.This attitude of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ is part and parcel of the Right’s daily discourse. If a Muslim somewhere in the world jay walks its totted as yet another anecdotal incident that proves that that all Muslims are beyond the law, beyond morality so in conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s words, ” We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” If its war it relieves the Right of the tedium of differentiating between actual terrorists and innocent Muslims. It is not just M’s Coulter, it is part of the daily framing that ranges all the way from Dick Cheney to the unglued Little Green Footballs.
Sardar and Davies believe that in the ‘war on terror’, “[t]wo factions that intuitively understand each other are ready to engage in apocalyptic battle,” but that, “[i]t is less clear that the rest of American society, the Muslim world or the world in general can intervene to question the policies and change the course of events to moderate a slide into increasing danger and insecurity for everyone, everywhere. “Yet such pessimism is not necessarily warranted. The first step must surely be for us to acknowledge the need for democracy and equality to prevail over the clashing ‘fundamentalisms’ of ‘Jihad’ and ‘McWorld’. After all, Osama bin Laden’s attempts to provoke a ‘clash of civilizations’ have, “turned out to be a spectacular failure.”55 One can find evidence for this in the Iranians who gathered outside of the US embassy in Tehran on the night of 9/11, not to chant anti-US slogans but to offer their sympathies, or to the enduring anti-war movement in the West. These examples are the antitheses to the ‘clash of civilizations’, and are evidence that ordinary individuals – potential victims of the ‘war on terror’ – motivated by their concern for other ordinary individuals, are willing and able to register their opposition to the policies of those in power. ( This was a scholarly article which had number references for the footnotes which I removed for formatting reasons. They are available on the pdf file)