Dissent from the Homeland is a book about patriotism, justice, revenge, American history and symbology, art and terror, and pacifism. In this deliberately and urgently provocative collection, noted writers, philosophers, literary critics, and theologians speak out against the war on terrorism and the government of George W. Bush as a response to the events of September 11, 2001. Critiquing government policy, citizen apathy, and societal justifications following the attacks, these writers present a wide range of opinions on such issues as contemporary American foreign policy and displays of patriotism in the wake of the disaster.
Whether illuminating the narratives that have been used to legitimate the war on terror, reflecting on the power of American consumer culture to transform the attack sites into patriotic tourist attractions, or insisting that to be a Christian is to be a pacifist, these essays refuse easy answers. They consider why the Middle East harbors a deep-seated hatred for the United States. They argue that the U.S. drive to win the cold war made the nation more like its enemies, leading the government to support ruthless anti-Communist tyrants such as Mobutu, Suharto, and Pinochet. They urge Americans away from the pitfall of national self-righteousness toward an active peaceableness—an alert, informed, practiced state of being—deeply contrary to both passivity and war. Above all, the essays assembled in Dissent from the Homeland are a powerful entreaty for thought, analysis, and understanding. Originally published as a special issue of the journal South Atlantic Quarterly, Dissent from the Homeland has been expanded to include new essays as well as a new introduction and postscript.
Contributors. Srinivas Aravamudan, Michael J. Baxter, Jean Baudrillard, Robert N. Bellah, Daniel Berrigan, Wendell Berry, Vincent J. Cornell, David James Duncan, Stanley Hauerwas, Fredric Jameson, Frank Lentricchia, Catherine Lutz, Jody McAuliffe, John Milbank, Peter Ochs, Donald E. Pease, Anne R. Slifkin, Rowan Williams, Susan Willis, Slavoj Zizek
In this significant Marxist critique of contemporary American imperialism, the cultural theorist Randy Martin argues that a finance-based logic of risk control has come to dominate Americans’ everyday lives as well as U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Risk management—the ability to adjust for risk and to leverage it for financial gain—is the key to personal finance as well as the defining element of the massive global market in financial derivatives. The United States wages its amorphous war on terror by leveraging particular interventions (such as Iraq) to much larger ends (winning the war on terror) and by deploying small numbers of troops and targeted weaponry to achieve broad effects. Both in global financial markets and on far-flung battlegrounds, the multiplier effects are difficult to foresee or control.
Drawing on theorists including Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Achille Mbembe, Martin illuminates a frightening financial logic that must be understood in order to be countered. Martin maintains that finance divides the world between those able to avail themselves of wealth opportunities through risk taking (investors) and those who cannot do so, who are considered “at risk.” He contends that modern-day American imperialism differs from previous models of imperialism, in which the occupiers engaged with the occupied to “civilize” them, siphon off wealth, or both. American imperialism, by contrast, is an empire of indifference: a massive flight from engagement. The United States urges an embrace of risk and self-management on the occupied and then ignores or dispossesses those who cannot make the grade.
Continuous expansion of executive power is igniting national debate: Is the administration authorized to detain people without charges or access to counsel, due process, or a fair trial? Is torture acceptable as long as it doesn't happen on U.S. soil? In a new study of the use of plenary power - the doctrine under which U.S. courts have allowed the exercise of U.S. jurisdiction without concomitant constitutional protection - Natsu Taylor Saito puts contemporary policies in historical perspective, illustrating how such extensions of power have been upheld by courts from the 1880s to the present.
From Chinese Exclusion to Guantánamo Bay also provides a larger context for understanding problems resulting from the exercise of plenary power. Saito explains how the rights of individuals and groups deemed Other by virtue of race or national origin have been violated under both the Constitution and international law. The differing treatment of José Padilla and John Walker Lindh - both Americans accused of terrorism - provides an example of such disparate approaches. Such executive actions and their sanction by Congress and the judiciary, Saito argues, undermine not just individual rights but the very foundations of our national security - democracy and the rule of law.
From Chinese Exclusion to Guantánamo Bay will interest readers concerned with the historical background of constitutional protection in times of war and peace and will provide fascinating new material for scholars, teachers, and students of law, history, and ethnic studies
In Sacred Violence, the distinguished political and legal theorist Paul W. Kahn investigates the reasons for the resort to violence characteristic of premodern states. In a startling argument, he contends that law will never offer an adequate account of political violence. Instead, we must turn to political theology, which reveals that torture and terror are, essentially, forms of sacrifice. Kahn forces us to acknowledge what we don't want to see: that we remain deeply committed to a violent politics beyond law.
Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities at Yale Law School and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights.
Cover Illustration: "Abu Ghraib 67, 2005" by Fernando Botero. Courtesy of the artist and the American University Museum.
Hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers, the idea that the September 11 attacks had “changed everything” permeated American popular and political discussion. In the period since then, the events of September 11 have been used to justify profound changes in U.S. public policy and foreign relations. Bringing together leading scholars of history, law, literature, and Islam, September 11 in History asks whether the attacks and their aftermath truly marked a transition in U.S. and world history or whether they are best understood in the context of pre-existing historical trajectories.
From a variety of perspectives, the contributors to this collection scrutinize claims about September 11, in terms of both their historical validity and their consequences. Essays range from an analysis of terms like “ground zero,” “homeland,” and “the axis of evil” to an argument that the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay has become a site for acting out a repressed imperial history. Examining the effect of the attacks on Islamic self-identity, one contributor argues that Osama bin Laden enacted an interpretation of Islam on September 11 and asserts that progressive Muslims must respond to it. Other essays focus on the deployment of Orientalist tropes in categorizations of those who “look Middle Eastern,” the blurring of domestic and international law evident in a number of legal developments including the use of military tribunals to prosecute suspected terrorists, and the justifications for and consequences of American unilateralism. This collection ultimately reveals that everything did not change on September 11, 2001, but that some foundations of democratic legitimacy have been significantly eroded by claims that it did.
Contributors Khaled Abou el Fadl Mary L. Dudziak Christopher L. Eisgruber Laurence R. Helfer Sherman A. Jackson Amy B. Kaplan Elaine Tyler May Lawrence G. Sager Ruti G. Teitel Leti Volpp Marilyn B. Young
Taking seriously the “W Stands for Women” rhetoric of the 2004 Bush–Cheney campaign, the contributors to this collection investigate how “W” stands for women. They argue that George W. Bush has hijacked feminist language toward decidedly antifeminist ends; his use of feminist rhetoric is deeply and problematically connected to a conservative gender ideology. While it is not surprising that conservative views about gender motivate Bush’s stance on so-called “women’s issues” such as abortion, what is surprising—and what this collection demonstrates—is that a conservative gender ideology also underlies a range of policies that do not appear explicitly related to gender, most notably foreign and domestic policies associated with the post-9/11 security state. Any assessment of the lasting consequences of the Bush presidency requires an understanding of the gender conservatism at its core.
In W Stands for Women ten feminist scholars analyze various aspects of Bush’s persona, language, and policy to show how his administration has shaped a new politics of gender. One contributor points out the shortcomings of “compassionate conservatism,” a political philosophy that requires a weaker class to be the subject of compassion. Another examines Lynndie England’s participation in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in relation to the interrogation practices elaborated in the Army Field Manual, practices that often entail “feminizing” detainees by stripping them of their masculine gender identities. Whether investigating the ways that Bush himself performs masculinity or the problems with discourse that positions non-Western women as supplicants in need of saving, these essays highlight the far-reaching consequences of the Bush administration’s conflation of feminist rhetoric, conservative gender ideology, and neoconservative national security policy.
Contributors. Andrew Feffer, Michaele L. Ferguson, David S. Gutterman, Mary Hawkesworth, Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, Lori Jo Marso, Danielle Regan, R. Claire Snyder, Iris Marion Young, Karen Zivi
Michaela Ferguson and Karen Zivi appeared on KPFA’s Against the Grain on September 11, 2007. Listen to the audio. Michaela Ferguson and Lori Jo Marso appeared on WUNC’s The State of Things on August 30, 2007. Listen to the audio.