The abuse of terrorism
As regular readers will know, I have little time for people who put the word “terrorism” in scare quotes, as if the terrorism that Bush and Brown et al talk about is nothing more than some ideological construct, some imaginary Western ethno-centric fear stirred up to justify neocon war. Terrorism is a real and terrible threat.
This makes it all the worse when the authorities invoke the concept of terrorism to clamp down on various forms of dissent that falls in to a completely different category. Ambivalent though I am about the Heathrow airport protestors (see VP at Shiraz and Janine at Stroppy for more on such ambivalence), they are not “environmental fascists”, as Geoffrey Alderman libelled them in the JC this week,* nor should they be policed using laws designed to fight terrorism.
More outrageous is the German government’s arrest of antri-gentrification social scientists under anti-terrorism laws as being members of an un-named “militante gruppe”. As Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen write:
“Terrorism” has two faces. There are real threats and real terrorists, and then again there is a realm of nameless fears, vague forebodings, and irrational responses. The German federal police seem to have succumbed to the latter; on the July 31 2007 they raided the flats and workplaces of Dr Andrej Holm and Dr Matthias B, as well as of two other persons, all engaged in that most suspicious pursuit: committing sociology.—
Incidentally, it is interesting that the German state uses similar tactics to the Italian state in its campaign against Toni Negri: guilt by association, and the idea that academics constitute the “brains behind” terror operations, as if ordinary folk aren’t capable of thinking up evil by themselves.—
*Update 2: see Michael Lazarus’ rebutall of Alderman here.
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Tags: police, terrorism, Urbanism