"The new front in the War on Terror is the "homegrown enemy," domestic terrorists who have become the focus of sprawling counterterrorism structures of policing and surveillance in the United States and across Europe. Domestic surveillance has mushroomed— at least 100,000 Muslims in America have been secretly under scrutiny. British police compiled a secret suspect list of more than 8,000 al-Qaeda "sympathizers," and in another operation included almost 300 children fifteen and under among the potential extremists investigated. MI5 doubled in size in just five years. The Muslims Are Coming! looks at the way these debates have been transformed by the embrace of a narrowly configured and ill-conceived antiextremism".
This book reified a lot for me... words like "radicalization", "counterterrorism" etc are so common and unquestioned in national/public political discourse that they seep into the public's thinking/understanding of what "terrorism" is and how "it can be fought" (Glenn Greenwald explaining why "terror" and "terrorism" are meaningless propaganda terms). Quick example of this: I was at Spar a few days ago when the college shooting in France happened, the TV was on BBC and beneath the 'breaking news' banner, in large print was something like:
"MIGHT BE TERROR ATTACK"
Or something equally hysterical. The thing is though, it might be anything. It might be accidental. It might be the aliens from "Arrival". It might be a gun-obsessed teenage student.
... and, it was a gun-obsessed teenage student.
"Might be a terror attack" is a purposeful sentence, with explicit and implicit meanings ... "Was it a terror attack or not? Who knows, but, really who cares? Does it even matter? Even if it wasn't, one is always around the corner. Stay paranoid, I mean, vigilant". Fear is one of the most powerful and malleable weapons governments can have over a population. People know, in very real and clear ways, that we're more likely to die falling down the stairs, choking on food, being attacked by dogs or bee stings than in a terrorist attack ... but what happens when perpetual war is an economic model, political careers depend on "being hard on terrorism" and an entire ecosystem of national and global surveillance-intelligence industries-influencing government policies-influencing school policies-and the policing of predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, depend on the sustained and stoked irrational fear of black/brown people?
Facts become superfluous ... they're besides the point. So we almost willingly accept and allow governments to spy on us ... and corner us ... and give us false choices ... and disinform us ... and we absorb the fear. Subconsciously. We start paying more attention to everything while not knowing what we're even looking at, we ask less critical questions, we accept plainer answers, we become more deferential to authority, we police ourselves and each other. Because, as it's forcefully and seductively and constantly pounded into our hearts and minds and spirits... you never know what Muslims are up to. And it's the not knowing that gets you.
Some fire quotes as usual:
Totalitarian rule thrives on its' subjects ignorance of the extent to which the surveillance system is monitoring their lives. The possibility, rather than the fact, of surveillance is enough to generate fear, anxiety, and informal pressures to conform, to downplay dissenting opinions, to declare one's absolute loyalty.
So long as the unspoken assumption that these measures will only be directed at racialized subjects - Muslims, African Americans, undesired immigrants, asylum seekers - remains valid, then the consent of the majority can be secured.
Underlying the whole fantasy is the culturalist belief that Islam is not a religion like Christianity and Judaism but a fanatical, totalitarian ideology aiming at political domination of the West.