Terrorism as Normalcy

By Cockburn, Alexander | The Nation, July 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Terrorism as Normalcy


Cockburn, Alexander, The Nation


Gangbangers with dirty bombs! Now we're talking. The big news about the latest suspected terror bomber is not that he now calls himself Al Muhajir but that he was formerly Jose Padilla, a Puerto Rican raised in Chicago. Padilla became a son of militant Islam in the slammer, same way thousands of other young denizens of our gulag do.

In the normal order of business, suspected gangbangers don't have much purchase on the Bill of Rights. Their rights of assembly and protection against unreasonable search and seizure were curtailed long since. Padilla's current status could foreshadow a trend. Pending challenge in the courts, he's classed as an "enemy combatant" and locked up in a Navy brig in Charleston, with no rights at all.

Tuesday, June 11, all the way from Moscow, Attorney General Ashcroft fostered the impression that Padilla/Muhajir had been foiled pretty much in the act of planting radioactive material taped to TNT in the basement of the Sears Tower or some kindred monument of Chicago. "US: 'Dirty Bomb' Plot Foiled," exulted USA Today.

Next day came a modified climb-down. "Threat of 'Dirty Bomb' Softened" muttered USA Today's front-page headline. It turned out Muhajir had ten grand in cash and maybe big dreams but nothing in the way of radioactive dirt or even TNT. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the press, "I don't think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk." He should know.

But at least we're now sensitized to the "dirty bomb" menace. It seems that ten pounds of TNT, wrapped around a "pea-size" piece of cesium-137 from a medical gauge, would give anyone within five blocks downwind a one in a thousand chance of getting cancer. We should be worried about this? I'd say it should come pretty low on the list of Major Concerns. Suppose Al Qaeda were to plan something really nasty, like shipping spent nuclear fuel by rail from every quarter of the United States to a fissured mountain in Nevada not that far from one of America's prime tourist destinations. That's the Bush plan, of course.

What a gift to the forces of darkness the War on Terror is turning out to be, as a subject-changer from the normal terrorism inflicted by the state. Right now, across the United States, the final cutoffs for people on welfare are looming. The guillotine blade ratcheted into position by Clinton's 1996 welfare reform is plummeting.

Take Oregon. It has a terrible recession, the worst unemployment rate in the country and the largest deficit in the state's history. Back in 1979, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, 39 percent of poor Oregonians were getting public assistance. These days it's under 10 percent. Does that mean the previously destitute are now in regular jobs? No. It just means you have to be a lot poorer to get any sort of handout. It means the usual story: exhausted mothers scrabbling for petty cash, doing occasional starvation-wage work. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Terrorism as Normalcy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.