Hypermasculine Warfare: From 9/11 to the War on Iraq
Hypermasculine Warfare, 9/11 and the Bush Doctrine
In Blood Rites, her study of the “passions of war” throughout history and across cultures, Barbara Ehrenreich points to the gender dimensions of war-making: "Men make wars for many reasons, but one of the most recurring ones is to establish that they are, in fact, 'real men.' Warfare and aggressive masculinity have been, in other words, mutually reinforcing cultural enterprises”. While aggression and violence are obviously integral to warfare, they are also indicators of hypermasculinity. Fearing vulnerability and eschewing empathy and compassion, hypermasculinity projects a punitive posture towards others and a dismissive attitude towards any supposed feminine attributes. Embracing characteristics of the bully, hypermasculinity attempts to browbeat and punish those who threaten the pseudo-sense of invulnerability fostered by an aggressive masculinity. Hypermasculinity is not an eternal nor essential feature of manhood; rather, constructions of hypermasculinity are nourished by historical conditioning and social-cultural practices and complicated by class, race, and sexual orientation.
Hypermasculinity has been deeply embedded in the military interventions and war-making encouraged by US imperial policies, especially since the Cold War. As a consequence of the US defeat in the Vietnam War, those political and cultural forces aligned with hypermasculinity, specifically, but not exclusively, the retributionist right-wing, have undertaken military campaigns intended to demonstrate punitive prowess throughout the world. Writing before the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lynda Boose asserted: "In the four 'tests by fire' that the United States has staged since its defeat in Vietnam, the pattern has been one of a progressively escalating use of force and an increasing reliance on weapons of mass destruction demonstrably disproportionate to any imputed threat. For the rest of the world,...the pattern strongly suggests a psychic quest that becomes compulsively more urgent with each successive proof of its impossibility”.
On the other hand, this psychic quest also has very real economic, geopolitical, and ideological motives which translate into lethal policies, policies which, in turn, give rise to desires for revenge and retribution. In accounting for the growth of terrorism as a form of “blowback,” Chalmers Johnson, writing presciently before 9/11 in his 2000 book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, noted: “Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable. The innocent of the twenty-first century are going to harvest unexpected blowback disasters from the imperialist escapades of recent decades”. Whatever the motives of those who carried out the brutal attacks on 9/11 with the attendant tragic loss of life, they clearly had been nurtured by grievances against US foreign policy in the Middle East. More significantly for the thesis of this essay, they exhibited their own version of hypermasculinity in their aggressive rage against innocents.
In turn, the Bush administration manipulated the outrage over the loss of life from 9/11 terrorism into its own opportunity for hypermasculine warfare. Repudiating the desire for non-lethal reactions articulated by many families who were grieving for their losses, Bush and his neo-conservative war-makers immediately geared up for punitive military campaigns that ultimately led to a war on Iraq. In fact, as we now know from counter-terrorism policy-maker, Richard Clarke, Bush was obsessed with finding connections between the attacks on 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was eager to bomb Iraq, according to Clarke, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Although there would be a delay in the attack on Iraq and a war-making detour to Afghanistan, the Bush Administration would opportunistically seek to link 9/11 and Saddam Hussein in the minds of the American public. Even though no Iraqis were involved in the 9/11 terror attack, Bush Administration spokespeople, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, would repeatedly (and apparently successfully, given poll results that showed a majority of the American public accepting linkages between Saddam Hussein and the links betwee 9/11 terrorists and Iraq) invoke false intelligence reports to suggest connections between the 9/11 terrorists and Saddam Hussein.
As historian Michael Hunt suggests in the September 2002 issue of The Journal of American History, the Bush Administration’s response to 9/11 called upon “a deeply rooted nationalist faith that is universal in its application, ahistorical in its thinking and reductive in its view of other cultures. The talk from the White House, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon draws from a familiar nationalist repertoire that reduces complex situations to easily grasped terms familiar from other times of tension and fear”. Hunt aptly identifies such discourse as “the language of the crusader”. In turn, the crusder’s modus operandi becomes hypermasculine warfare. As journalist Chris Hedges contends: “War is a crusade. President George W. Bush is not shy about warning other nations that they stand with the United States in the war on terrorism or will be counted with those that defy us”.
In their Manichean crusade for a war on terrorism at home and abroad, the Bush administration has launched two wars, one against Afghanistan and the other against Iraq. Certainly, in the case of the war on Iraq, the role of oil, military Keynsianism, forward basing of US military power, and the alliance with Israel all are significant features of the illegally “pre-emptive” invasion and occupation. However, the Bush administration’s warmongering and announcement of "full-spectrum dominance" around the world reveal ideological and cultural features that have a decided gendered meaning, one that is fully consonant with hypermasculinity. As noted by the former British chief of defense staff, Lord Guthrie, upon the elevation of George W. Bush to the US Presidency (an elevation, it should be noted, that was rife with manipulation and intimidation, especially in Florida, and sealed by an ideologically-driven Supreme Court): "The Americans talk about the warrior ethic and ... that peacekeeping is for wimps”. The obsession with being perceived as “wimps” is often a motivating factor in the decisions made by policy-planners and war-managers.
Of course, the so-called "wimp factor" was a critical factor for George H. W. Bush to engage in Gulf War 1. Furthermore, it's not at all surprising that the policymakers of that military adventure, from Dick Cheney (then Secretary of Defense) to Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the help of think-tank superhawks who now occupy key positions in the Pentagon, the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, and VP Cheney's staff, from Paul Wolfowitz to Richard Perle to Lewis Libby, respectively, were all engaged in developing what now has become known as the "Bush Doctrine." When originally vettcd in 1992 in a policy statement by Wolfowitz on asserting US military power and political hegemony around the world, it was met with skepticism by conservatives and scorn by liberals. Nonetheless, it did not deter Powell from stating in front of the House Armed Services Committee in 1992 that "I want to be the bully on the block”.
What has emerged as the Bush Doctrine is, in effect, a unilateral determination, in the words of historian Anders Stephanson, "to act when the world is in need of discipline and punishment." Both Stephanson and political scientist Richard Falk note that “messianic Protestantism" and "evangelical moralism" are deeply embedded in the world-view articulated by the Bush Doctrine, a world-view predicated on unending war and one, according to Falk, "without limits, without accountability to the UN or international law, without any dependence on a collective judgment of responsible governments..." Bush’s commitment to an evangelical jihad against “evil” is further reinforced by his administration’s connections to Christian fundamentalism, a fundamentalism fused with fostering hypermasculine warfare. As noted by Barbara Ehrenreich, the “Christian right...is as much a nationalist movement as a religious one and serves as an ardent lobby for the U. S. military”.
Imbricated with this ideological and cultural messianism is a form of hypermasculinity that manifests patriarchal punishment and adolescent aggression. What the rest of this essay will attempt to render is a series of gendered snapshots of the Bush administration's war on Iraq in order to understand how hypermasculine warfare has been prosecuted. By highlighting both policy and incidents in the war on Iraq from the air and on the ground, we will be able to discern the ways in which hypermasculine warfare has become a central component of the Bush Doctrine.
From On High: Technowar, Reified Rape, and Patriarchal Punishment
In planning for the war on Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his key deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, committed the military campaign in the air to a reliance on so-called "precision bombing." Especially enamored of a technowar policy of “shock and awe," the Pentagon war planners sought to make operational a 1996 document principally authored by Harlan K. Ullman. Ullman's conviction that massive launching of'precision-guided missiles and bombs would produce a strategy of air assault with "sufficiently intimidating and compelling factors to force or otherwise convince an adversary to accept our will," was a variation on the kind of punitive "communicative bombing" adopted in Vietnam and followed ever since. Beyond the technological triumphalism represented by such a bombing strategy, there is a strong hint of what I would call "reified rape." As suggested by the title of Susan Brownmiller's seminal study of rape, Against Our Will, rape is a violent act to obliterate a women's will. (Given the necessary training in such hypermasculine warfare, it is not a coincidence that actual rape and sexual assault have become rampant at the US Air Force Academy.) In "Shock and Awe" strategy bombing becomes a patriarchal psy-ops campaign that seeks hypermasculine dominance of the other's will. In this case, of course, the psychological effect was not immediately successful since the dictatorial ruling clique in Iraq was thoroughly imbued with their own hypemasculinity.
Nonetheless, within the first two weeks of the war on Iraq hundreds of Tomahawk missiles and thousands of guided bombs were dropped on Iraq. What the Pentagon delighted in showing for a complicit cheerleading corporate media was the supposed pinpoint accuracy of clean technological weapons. In reality, as opposed to the hyperreality of the media war, the technological errors, friendly fire, and civilian casualties revealed a viciously violent attack that resonated with the patriarchal punishment of hypermasculinity. Time and again the courageous British journalist and Middle East specialist, Robert Fisk, visited sites in Baghdad and elsewhere where he presented to the readers of The Independent incontrovertible evidence of the human suffering inflicted by Pentagon bombs. While the Pentagon denied again and again its culpability for such civilian casualties, Fisk and other reporters noted the US markings on bomb and missile remnants found on site. For the Pentagon and the US media, their weapons of mass deception attempted to obfuscate the reality of the damage and death caused by weapons of mass destruction.
In their denial of the technological errors and devastating suffering integral to the air war strategy in Iraq, the war-managers underscore the hypermasculine policy of reified rape and patriarchal punishment. In the first 12 days of the war over a quarter of all the Tomahawk missiles ever built were launched, with many going awry in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Iran. While there was some acknowledgment of technological difficulties with the guidance system for the Tomahawk missile, no such recognition of technological faults or moral qualms was evident in the unleashing of massive amounts of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), a 2,000 pound Mark-84 dumb bomb with a global-positioning guidance kit. Numerous studies suggest that up to 10 percent of these bombs go astray because of technical malfunctions. What occurs to those on the ground who are on or off target is the same brutal effect. As noted by one commentator, the 2,000 JDAM "releases a crushing shock wave and showers jagged, white-hot metal fragments at supersonic speed, shattering concrete, shredding flesh, crushing cells, rupturing lungs, bursting sinus cavities and ripping away limbs in a maelstrom of destruction." Given the destructive capacity of these weapons, Rumsfeld's hypermasculine blindness concerning the precision and humane care of the air war must be measured against the numerous reports of civilian casualties from Robert Fisk and other intrepid international reporters and pictures shown continuously by Al-Jazeera television of women and children blown apart. (Perhaps this explains why the Baghdad hotel where international reporters were gathered was targeted by the US, killing and injuring several international correspondents, and why the Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad was bombed by the Pentagon, resulting in the death of one of their reporters.) Just as the war managers, wedded to mechanistic and reified conceptions of their weaponry, rationalized any "collateral damage," so the mainstream US media carried only shots of sanitized warfare.
The willful denial of the morally repugnant weapons of mass destruction used by the Pentagon and neglect of the repercussions of the air war are particularly apparent in the use of aerial cluster bombs. Such weapons, used on the Iraq town of Hilla (where at least 33 civilians were killed, including 9 children) and elsewhere in the war, not only are in violation of international treaties, but also have a failure rate that consigns the left-over cluster bomblets, actually land-mines that look like yellow food packages, to lethal timebombs, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Added to these delayed and long-term effects of the air war is the use of depleted uranium weapons. Depleted uranium weapons can lead to cancers and birth defects when they are not directly killing anyone, as in an incident reported in The Sunday Herald (30 March 2003) where a US A10 tankbuster plane dropped its DU weapons on British soldiers. While hypermasculine warfare manifests no guilt or shame about the utilization of such weapons, it further reinforces what sociologist Philip Slater has labeled the “Toilet Assumption" in American culture, a version of "out of sight, out of mind". In other words, protected by technological abstractions and managerial hubris, the war-makcrs conduct their patriarchal punishment with a fundamental disconnect to the actual messy consequences. Of course, what would one expect from a "Supreme Commander" and his war managers as they sit on-high, ensconced in their patriarchal symbolic order, dispensing technological death and destruction without any hint of guilt or remorse.
From the Ground Level: "The Chick Got in the Way”
While the Commander-in-Chief and the war managers in the Pentagon provide the battle plans for the execution of hypermasculine warfare on Iraq, the ground soldier is trained and expected to carry out the mission. There are, of course, a wide range of individual responses to fighting a war, especially one based on an illegal invasion of a foreign country. However, as Chris Hedges contends in his recent brilliant book, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, US war-managers "equip and train the most efficient killers on the planet”. As a testimony to this instruction, US Sergeant Eric Schrumpf is quoted by New York Times reporter, Dexter Filkins, after one firefight in an Iraqi village as saying: "We had a great day .... We killed a lot of people." Sergeant Schrumpf also pointed out that "we dropped a few civilians, but what do you do?" Recalling that some women were mixed in with Iraqi soldiers, he noted he had little choice but to shoot. "I'm sorry," the sergeant said. "But the chick was in the way” (29 March 2003).
This hypermasculine warrior fully reflects the "warrior psyche" analyzed by reporters and academics like Chris Hedges and Sam Keen and participants like Ron Kovic (in his Vietnam-era autobiography, Bom on the Fourth of July) and Anthony Swofford (in his Gulf War narrative, Jarhead). Built on the "repression of fear, compassion, and guilt," the warrior psyche is nourished in boot camp. During the bullying of military training, young men are taught to despise any signs of weakness and to begin to shun an aversion to killing. Misogynist and homophobic derision often reinforce this hypermasculinized warrior psyche. As C. G. Appy notes in his study of basic training experiences during the Vietnam War era, "women and gays were referred to interchangeably as the epitome of all that is cowardly, passive, untrustworthy, unclean, and undisciplined". In refusing to become such a hypermasculine warrior, one gay Marine, Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk, recently applied for conscientious objector status observing: "The military cultivates antigay sentiment among its enlisted, but I also believe it perpetuates feelings of hatred against all that are different either culturally, ethnically, or otherwise. I think that is the way the military dehumanizes the enemy ... so that its members won't be adverse to killing them”.
The desensitization to killing the "enemy," even if they are women and children is another part of military training. As noted by a former military psychologist, David Grossman, young men are drilled into "disengaging" from any sentiments that would undermine their commitment to becoming trained killers. This desensitization to killing creates a "trigger-pull ratio" that produces men on "hair-trigger" alert. During some of the perilous first engagements in the ground war in Iraq, nervous US soldiers, unprepared for the irregular warfare with Iraqi soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and mixed into the civilian population, went into "hair-trigger" alert, shooting first and asking questions later. This resulted in numerous instances of Iraqi civilians being fired upon, at times with warning and at times without any warning. When one elderly disabled Iraqi man approached some US Marines, he was shot down. The only response of regret reported at the time in the New York Times (8 April 2003) was from one Marine rifleman who lamented that Iraqi civilians weren't paying attention to leaflets warning them of being outside in what became free-fire zones: "They shouldn't be out - they got the memo”.
On the other hand, some US soldiers were stoked by a revenge mentality that reflected both an individual motivation for fighting in Iraq, albeit based on war propaganda and urban myth, and a more generalized hypermasculinity where "extreme and disproportionate violence" are relied upon for "any experience of victimization." Such revenge mentality, according to Nancy Ehrenreich, may account "not only for global warmongering in reaction to acts of terrorism, but also for boys who slaughter their classmates in response to social ostracism, men who beat their wives for perceived unfaithfulness, and a national death culture in which state-sponsored slaying is a routine response to murder”. The day after the invasion of Iraq, one US solider exclaimed: "I wanna take revenge for 9/11." When confronted with the fact that there was no direct evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks, the soldier just demurred and said: "Yeah, well that stuff's way over my head”.
Other ground troops also eschewed questioning the political propaganda behind the war and, instead, embraced the harsh realities of carrying out the mission, irrespective of who might die in the process. Behind the orders of shooting anything that moved, 21year-old US Army Private Nick Boggs, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald (8 April 2003), rationalized killing a 10 year-old Iraqi child. "I did what I had to do. I don't have a big problem with it but anyone who shoots a little kid has to feel something....I think they thought we wouldn't shoot kids. But we showed them we don't care. We are going to do what we have to do to stay alive and keep ourselves safe." Such hypermasculine commitment to aggressive violence is based on what social psychologist Tracy Xavier Karner calls a “militarization of feeling" where even women and children are legitimate targets. For hypermasculine warriors, compassion and caring become signs of feminine weakness, marking someone as a wimp or wuss. Even when a modicum of compassion is manifested, it can be offset by the sense of hypermasculine duty. For example, after burying an Iraqi child killed by US troops, Lieutenant Matt Martin, a father of three, commented to Mark Franchetti, a London Times reporter: "It really gets to me to see children being killed like this, but we had no choice."
While some are obviously reluctant hypermasculine warriors, others, especially younger men still expressing an aggressive adolescence stoked by violent video games, decry the "fiiggin women and children." For one such US soldier, Corporal Ryan Dupre, the "Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy”. While revealing a level of racism endemic to the nationalist ritual of warfare, Cpl. Dupre also inadvertently articulates a form of what Karner identifies as "toxic masculinity”. Such toxic masculinity is poison to those perceived to be an enemy and to those parts of one's own manhood that might be designated as weak or feminine. In attempting to kill off such external or internal threats, hypermasculinity extracts a vicious price paid by others and the self. On another level, curing people by killing them is equivalent to the infamous pronouncement by a US officer on the destruction of a Vietnamese village during the war in that ravaged country: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
Counterinsurgency and Insurgency in Iraq
As the war in Iraq has moved from the early spring days of the invasion marked by an initial optimism into the winter of occupation and insurgent uprisings against that occupation, the Pentagon war-making has taken on the practice and rhetoric of counterinsurgency. Such counterinsurgency has evoked resonances from earlier wars even while retaining those punitive and aggressive qualities of hypermasculine warfare. The desperation that now pervades the US military occupation of Iraq is palpable on the ground, even as the mystifying rhetoric by those in command, both civilian and military, persists. In a perceptive eye-witness account of the occupation, one former US military officer notes: “No matter what you call this stage of conflict in Iraq – the soldiers call it a guerrilla war while politicians back home often refer to it misleadingly and inaccurately as part of the amorphous ‘war on terror’ – it is without a doubt a nasty, deadly war”.
The war, has, in fact, become even nastier and deadlier for the occupying forces, leading to the adoption of tactics that recall past counterinsurgency campaigns, especially those during the UW war in Southeast Asia. In a quote that is reminiscent of that past war in Vietnam where destroying a village was presented as “saving” it, a Colonel Nathan Sassaman offered his interpretation of recent punitive measures by US military forces in Iraq. “With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them”. While the “fear and violence” part recalls brutal counterinsurgency programs, such as Operation Phoenix, that summarily executed thousands of supposed Vietnames insurgents, the “money for projects” part reflects the pork-barrel programs that Lyndon Johnson once proposed for Vietnam and now George W. Bush puts into operation in Iraq.
Even if Kellog, Brown & Root, Bechtel, and Halliburton are cashing in on projects in Iraq, these same companies are becoming more squeamish about the lethal environment in Iraq. According to one eyewitness account of the skittishness of US corporate clients in Iraq: “One of the Bechtel truck convoys got ambushed on the way up here three weeks ago, and one of the security guys got wounded...They abandoned their trucks on the spot and pulled out, and we haven’t seen them since”. Is it any surprise that the Bush administration has tried to accelerate plans for inducting more Iraqis into security details, even if that means creating warlords with private militas as in Afghanistan?
What is surprising, at a certain level, is the effort by the Pentagon to return to the use of body counts. Intending to demonstrate that more of the “bad guys” are being hammered in US military operations, this tactic also recollects the disastrous illusory use of body counts in Vietnam. The most egregious incident of fake body counts in Iraq was at the end of the November 2003 engagement in Samarra. Instead of the Pentagon claims of the killing of 54 black clad fedayeen (reminiscent of black-clad VC?), the actual body count at Samarra was, according to independent Arab sources, 8 killed and 55 injured, all civilian. Apparently, after being fired upon indiscriminately by 120 mm canons mounted on Abrams tanks and 25 mm machine guns from Bradleys and Humvees, some civilians actually fired back. “Civilians shot back at the Americans,” said 30 year-old Ali Hasan, who was wounded by shrapnel in the battle. “They claim we are terrorists. So, OK, we are terrorists. What do they expect when they drive among us?”
Indeed, what are the expectations of US military commanders in Iraq, falsely groomed by the Bush Administration to be welcomed as liberators and then fed a steady stream of racist theories about the “Arab mind?” According to one US company commander: “You have to understand the Arab mind...The only thing they understand is force”. Hence, force and violence are being applied with ruthless abandon and hypermasculine justification in the hopes that the US military won’t lose out to the insurgent forces. In villages where insurgents have been waging their guerilla tactics, the US military, adopting a page from Israeli occupying forces in Palestine, are bulldozing houses, rounding-up all men for interrogation, and surrounding large areas with barbed wire fences and intimidating security checks.
This policy of counterinsurgency, while consonant with Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, is also reminiscent of Vietnam pacification programs. Such programs were intended to dry up the guerrilla sources of support when, in fact, they often led to civilian massacres and the creation of more insurgency. Part of the reason for the failure of US counterinsurgency in Vietnam was, in the words on Richard Slotkin in Gunfighter Nation, “to treat indigenous political culture as a nullity”. Hence, in Iraq the Bush Adminstration’s insistence that the insurgents are either remnants of the old Saddam Hussein regime, smuggled in al-Qaeda operatives, or just plain terrorist thugs. Whether they actually believe this to be the case or not only reinforces the sense that Washington policymakers are incapable of admitting the truth to the American people about the occupation of Iraq.
The truth about the insurgents is, of course, rather complicated. There was obviously some part of the insurgency that had links to Saddam Hussein’s previous command structure. On the other hand, there have been countless numbers of incidents and recent battles where Iraqi insurgents have expressed their antagonisms to the old regime. Even former victims of Saddam Hussein’s torture have taken up arms against the US military occupation. Commitments to the insurgency will only grow in response to the vindictive violence that Washington continues to exercise in Iraq.
The Plague of Toxic Hypermasculinity
While the ultimate outcome of the war in Iraq is unclear at this point, it is clear that hypermasculine warfare, whether fought from the air or on the ground, is toxic to all involved. Nonetheless, those who plan such wars from their safe physical and psychic distance from the battlefronts are particularly culpable for the devastation wrought by hypermasculine warfare. Irrespective of the ideological blinders that allow them, in this instance, to prate about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, these Washington policymakers, many of them without any battlefield experience, such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc, seem to covet warfare as a stimulant to their own forms of toxic masculinity. This Viagra of violence seems to prop up their phallic power in its drive to inflict punishment and assert hypermasculine rule. The extent to which they ideologically sucker or economically cajole others, especially younger men from working and poorer classes, into their self-serving delusions of grandeur is a testament to the persistence among all men of hypermasculinity and the allure of war.
Turning away from war and hypermasculinity will require something more than redirecting, as Sam Keen argues in Fire in the Belly, "the energies and virtues of the warrior psyche”. Repudiating war and the warrior psyche will require finding a way beyond both hypermasculinity and masculinity itself. As Susan Faludi concludes in her study of "the betrayal of the American Man," that while "men struggle to free themselves from their crisis, their task is not, in the end, to figure out how to be masculine - rather, their masculinity lies in figuring out how to be human”. And in our common humanity, we will all need the courage, will, and persistence not only to challenge those who plan and prosecute war, but also to confront warfare as a institutional plague that must be non-violently vanquished.
On the other hand, the arrogance and blindness of the Bush administration has begun to lead to a deligitimizing of their policies on the war on terror and Iraq. The fabrication of the major reason for the war on Iraq, the so-called threat from Iraq’s weapon’s of mass destruction, has been exposed as a lie and has led to even greater opposition by the American public to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The occupation, itself, is blowing up in the faces of the policy-makers even as it results in more death and destruction to American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. For the citizens of the United States, the nearly unanimous passage of the Patriot Act in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 has been revealed as an unwarranted erosion of civil liberties. Hence, over a hundred cities and increasing numbers of the public are urging an overturning of such repressive legislation. Clearly, the Bush administration’s policies of repression and war, built on paranoia and fear, are unraveling. Let us hope that sanity and compassion will expunge the paranoia, fear, and those policies of repression and war.
Francis Shor is professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Wayne State University.