Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Nation on September 11, 2001: “20 Years of Bloodshed and Delusion”

In a new special edition of The Nation, “20 Years of Bloodshed and Delusion,” columnists, contributors, and correspondents reckon with post-9/11 fantasies, lies, and media complicity in the War on Terror.  I found the following two contributions of important special interest:

How the War on Terror Created the “Muslim American”

Before 9/11, Muslims were just another of this country’s many religious groups. After, they became a targeted, racialized minority.


The War on Terror: 20 Years of Bloodshed and Delusion

From the beginning, the War on Terror merged red-hot vengeance with calculated opportunism. Millions are still paying the price.



September 11 obviously had long term civil rights implications for the United States.  In 2002, not long after that fateful day, Susan Akram, and I published Race, Civil Rights, and Immigration Law after September 11, 2001: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims in the NYU ANNUAL SURVEY OF AMERICAN LAW, which offered an early assessment of those implications.  We wrote:

"Besides acting on a national scale in the `war on terrorism' that followed September 11, the federal government took steps that might also have future civil rights consequences.10 In the investigation of the hijackings, the Department of Justice enlisted the assistance of state and local law enforcement agencies in the questioning of Arabs and Muslims. As part of heightened security measures, the Bush administration considered permanently increasing the role of local police in immigration enforcement, which would represent a significant departure from the near-exclusive federal dominance over this field. Because local police are generally unfamiliar with the immigration laws, they have been involved in well-known episodes of egregious violations of the civil rights of U.S. citizens as well as noncitizens in efforts at immigration enforcement. As a result, state and local involvement in immigration enforcement might have lasting civil rights impacts on immigrants in the United States.

The federal government’s response to September 11 demonstrates the close relationship between immigration law and civil rights in the United States. Noncitizens historically have been vulnerable to civil rights deprivations, in no small part because the law permits, and arguably encourages, extreme governmental conduct with minimal protections for the rights of noncitizens. Unfortunately, the current backlash against Arabs and Muslims in the United States fits comfortably into a long history, including the Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s, the Palmer Raids and the Red
Scare that followed World War I, and other concerted efforts by the U.S. government to stifle political dissent. This backlash is especially troubling because of the possibility—exemplified by the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II— that racial, religious, and other differences have fueled the animosity toward Arabs and Muslims.'  (footnotes omitted).


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