Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes and State Crimes in the War on Terror

Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes and State Crimes in the War on Terror

Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes and State Crimes in the War on Terror

Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate Crimes and State Crimes in the War on Terror

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 post9/11 America, much of that outrage has been targeted at innocent persons not involved in the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon or the Twin Towers. in a word, those people have become the scapegoats of September 11. This book takes on the uneasy task of sorting out the various manifestations of displaced aggression, most notably hate crimes along with state crimes that have become embarrassing hallmarks of the war on terror at home and abroad.

In so many ways, this project represents a continuation of my research on crime, punishment, and human rights, particularly as informed by race and ethnicity. On September 11, 2001, I had already completed the writing for my book Detained: Immigration Laws and the Expanding I.N.S. Jail Complex (2002, Temple University Press). Appropriately, I added an epilogue to that volume describing the challenges facing human rights in the aftermath of 9/11; nevertheless, the thrust of my conclusions has remained largely unchanged. in the days, weeks, months, and even years . . .

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