The Last Twentieth Century Book Club: The Making of a Moonie

This is the final installment of “The Last Twentieth Century Book Club,” Don Jolly‘s monthly column exploring religious ephemera. Continue Reading →

The Last Twentieth Century Book Club: Our Glorious Brothers

“The Last Twentieth Century Book Club” is an ongoing monthly column exploring religious ephemera by Don Jolly. Continue Reading →

Who You Calling a Terrorist?

In Peter King’s world, the battle has only two sides and only one winning strategy.

by Amy Levin and Abby Ohlheiser 

Lately media outlets have been telling us what Americans believe, from how much we think we should be taxed, to how much we like Muslims. Even how (much) we believe in God. What Pew or Gallup haven’t capitalized on yet is Americans’ obsession with terrorism.  How many of us believe in it—as a great danger to society, for instance—or how do we collectively define it—say, as a feature of particular world regions or cultures? Not unlike past eras when Americans developed their own definitions of Marxist, Communist, fascist, or anarchist (not anything good, mind you), in our current era we confidently call individuals with non-conformist, “subversive” ideologies “terrorist.” Sure, there is a technical definition for the word, but like any of the above descriptions, the more we use terrorist, the more obscure its meanings become. Why are certain political institutions reconstructing the definition of terrorism? Which forms of power succeed in remolding the word’s transformation?  What are the implications of invoking terrorist discourse?

Steering the bandwagon on exposure of terrorist threats, Rep. Peter King (R-NY3) is but one of the the media’s returning bedfellows on the fear-trafficking topic of homeland security.  Like any politician’s platform, there’s more to King’s efforts than meets the eye.  Given the context–-the killings in Oslo by suspect Anders Breivik–of last Wednesday’s third round of hearings on Muslim radicalization it is perhaps not surprising that much of the time was spent discussing things other than the stated topic of the day, the threat of Al Shabaab in the US. Continue Reading →

New McCarthy Era?

Despite disastrous ratings declines, Glenn Beck continues to be hard to ignore.  Lately he’s taken to “red-baiting” the president, as Media Matters and others report.  Since the rise of the Tea Party and Beck’s history professorship — but since the election really — commentators have been asking what’s behind the Right’s demonization of liberal and Democratic political opponents?  Many have been too quick to poo poo the significance of Beck and Tea Party actors like Dick Armey.  But as the Republican party works to ally it’s various Religious Right, Neocon, free-market and Tea Party factions to regain power, the question of a unifying ideology remains.  A clearly defined enemy and a hefty dose of paranoia always helps.
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