Snapshots

Creeping Counterterrorism: From Muslims to Political Protesters

Few Americans are surprised to hear that 9/11 shifted our domestic terrorism focus from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to Muslims in America. What may come as a surprise, however, is the pervasive use of anti-terrorism powers against non-Muslims as well, including white middle-class protesters - as we saw in the Occupy movement.

The 9/11 terrorists’ warped misinterpretation of Islam triggered a maelstrom of expanded national security powers selectively enforced against American Muslims en masse. Mosques are infiltrated with dubious and highly paid informants, thereby chilling religious freedom. Mentally unstable young Muslim men are targets of overzealous counterterrorism sting operations, and Muslim student associations are under mass surveillance for no apparent reason other than the religious identity of their members. Despite the serious civil liberties implications of such selective enforcement, it has occurred with minimal opposition by the American public.

 

Our shortsighted forfeiture of civil liberties based on fears of the “Muslim other” now equips our government to quash political dissent.

According to a state-by-state assessment by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in at least 36 states, Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police based on their participation in marches, protests and expressions of unusual viewpoints. Likewise, the former inspector general of the US Department of Justice found that antiwar activists in Pittsburgh, animal rights advocates in Virginia and liberal Roman Catholics in Nebraska have been subjected to unlawful surveillance based on their political views and activities.

Thus, the coordinated efforts among state and local agencies in Joint Terrorism Task Forces to quash the Occupy protests were a predictable consequence of counterterrorism’s scope creep.

At its peak in the fall of 2011, the Occupy movement engaged hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country in nonviolent political protests about the egregious wealth disparities in the United States. When it came to responding to mass discontent, the American government proved it had a lot in common with Middle Eastern dictators.

ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Creeping Counterterrorism: From Muslims to Political Protesters.

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