Citizenship and Its Exclusions: A Classical, Constitutional, and Critical Race Critique

Citizenship and Its Exclusions: A Classical, Constitutional, and Critical Race Critique

Citizenship and Its Exclusions: A Classical, Constitutional, and Critical Race Critique

Citizenship and Its Exclusions: A Classical, Constitutional, and Critical Race Critique

Excerpt

Imagine that you reside in a country not unlike the United States, with a similar cultural, economic, racial, and ethnic mix. As in many other countries, the events of September 11, 2001, dramatically changed the lives of the inhabitants of your land. Your country passed a series of special laws specifically designed to enhance national security, and has joined the United States in its military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your country’s law enforcement and military officials, in several high-profile arrests that captured the attention of the populace, took three suspects into custody who allegedly were involved in terrorist-related activities. While these arrests occurred at slightly different times and in different places, their commonality is that the alleged wrongdoers were citizens of your country. However, the commonality ends there. As events have unfolded, your country’s treatment of these individuals has varied greatly. Now, for the moment, put yourself in the place of each of these individuals.

In the first arrest, you are a young Caucasian man who grew up in a fairly affluent area of your country. You were captured fighting for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. As a teenager, you had discovered Islam and allegedly had come to adopt Taliban and al-Qaeda beliefs. You traveled to Egypt and Yemen to learn Arabic, trained for jihad in several training camps, and were said to have interacted with Osama bin Laden. After your arrest, you were not subject to the limited-rights regime pursuant to the special laws’ “enemy combatant” label. This label would have severely limited your constitutional rights and would have insured that you would have faced military and not civilian laws. You would have probably been detained in your country’s offshore military base that held all “enemy combatants” for an indefinite amount of time. You instead proceeded through your country’s traditional criminal . . .

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