Saturday, September 21, 2013

My new article, "Everyone is a Terrorist Now" in the journal Radical Criminology

Political policing (or state "high policing") usually is defined as activity which is directed, through surveillance and counterinsurgency, to control particular groups and communities. It is not deviant behavior but a core function of government to protect a political regime. In the U.S. context, the practice has deep historical roots and almost always is done secretly because it undermines the intention of the First Amendment, which protects free speech and assembly. Until the mid-1970s, most American political policing was directed against actors identified as "subversive." Afterwards, the category of "terrorism" became the legal basis for most domestic security investigations While this change from subversion to terrorism was intended to reduce government spying, one effect has been stigma and marginalization: the labeling of protest as terrorism undermines the legitimacy of a wide range of political expression. In the era of the "war on terror" against radical Islam, the concept of what constitutes terrorist activity is thoroughly confused. The American state deliberately makes little distinction between fighting violent terrorism with overseas roots and fighting peaceful, legal, domestic political activity. In the FBI's view, terrorists are found everywhere there is disagreement and conflict in society. Indeed, the very act of criticizing the government outside of a protest movement can result in being labeled a terrorist. Even though American radicals rarely commit crimes, the FBI claims they pose a major challenge to peaceful order in society. The terrorist label so broadly has been misapplied that it has lost most significance and meaning.

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