What We Talk About When We Talk About Terrorism | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
Pin It

What We Talk About When We Talk About Terrorism 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:09 pm

Page 5 of 6

After 9/11, other countries began adopting the language of the War on Terror to their own ends.
Everyone wants a piece of the American Dream. But America also exports the American Dream, and the most recent American Dream is the War on Terror. It is the hidden, dark, repressed part of the American Dream. President Bush’s rhetoric on the War on Terror has been adopted by people in India, for instance, which has conducted its own draconian campaign against minorities, particularly Muslims from Kashmir. The rhetoric has been adopted by dictators, people like Robert Mugabe, who labeled all the jailed journalists who opposed his brutal regime unlawful combatants. So rulers all over the world have taken the stick to dissidents by saying: You’re either with us or against us. This is how people elsewhere have wanted to imitate America.

You say to that incident in the book, “the fundamental inequality of power is a wall that cannot be breached without violence.” Are you referring to the occupied rising up against the occupier?
Maybe I’ve not been very clear there. I’m trying to say terrible violence is inherent in that situation. So violence will be practiced. The wall will be there and if it is breached, that will also involve violence. And our insurgencies involve IEDs. So for people to think that the wall will be breached by the most benign, benevolent, anodyne applications of policies, that’s not going to happen. There has to be a recognition of the brutality of war right now and of the cost it is taking on the people who are occupied, but also on the occupier, so that we recognize the reality, which we have been screened from. And I’m saying partly, that this screening has been done by the War on Terror. There are these spectacular announcements of arrests so that we can feel free, but we don’t understand that the terrible violence in places like Iraq means that we will never be free from the consequences of such violence.
It is because of the utter inequity of the situation. You occupy two positions. As an occupier and the occupied. You are placed in two positions that are so at odds with each other, but also so indifferent in terms of access to power, that terrible acts will inevitably be committed by one party.

I want to bring up the comparison that you make between the Hollingsworth/Pickard case and the Siraj and Lakhani trials.
Pickard was an orthodontist who had an offshore account he was trying to sell in 1990—perfectly legal—when he was contacted by US agents who convinced him and his friend Hollingworth to launder $200,000 through the account. At their trial, defense lawyers maintained—as Lakhani’s and Siraj’s lawyers would later at their trials—that Pickard and Hollingsworth had been entrapped. And they were acquitted, unlike Lakhani and Siraj.
Hollingsworth is the classic entrapment case. I just wanted to point out that the needle of suspicion pointed to them because on that very day the customs agent had taken a seminar on money laundering and on his lunch break, he saw Pickard’s ad in USA Today. And this little detail interests me. It’s almost like this customs agent has been entrapped in a way because he’s entrapped by the suggestion so powerfully made by the state. He believes that someone will place an ad to sell a license because they are interested in money laundering. Why would they sell the license if it is profitable? Pickard and Hollingsworth were business partners who had failed at every bloody enterprise. It interested me that here were two men who had the character of failed men, like Lakhani and like Rehman, the man who entrapped him.
I presented the Hollingsworth case because of the clear contrast between that time and this time. The logic of the defense against entrapment—that you had been incited to perform a crime—worked in the pre-9/11 period. But post-9/11, incitement is all you have if you want to arrest someone. That is how the logic of the state works. You can only provoke someone to say, “Yes, I’m going to bomb this country.”

What do you mean you can only provoke them?

The state believes that the only way to catch criminals is by getting evidence on tape—evidence of a foreigner or minority saying that they will go and blow up a plane or an airport or building.

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
The Ashokan Center presents Catskill Conversation: Historical Fiction for Young Readers @

The Ashokan Center presents Catskill Conversation: Historical Fiction for Young Readers

Sun., Jan. 16, 2-4 p.m. — In celebration of Martin Luther King’s legacy and in anticipation of February’s...

View all of today's events

Chronogram on Instagram

Latest in News & Politics

It’s high time Chronogram made a newsletter about marijuana. Stay in the know with the latest on dispensary openings, industry news, cultivation tips, and more as we cover the emerging cannabis scene in New York and the Northeast. Welcome to High Society.


* indicates required