I think it is safe to say that I was not expecting Butler to even touch on politics, as the beginning of the reading seemed to me almost as a memoir on his experience with loss and grieving. I have never read or seen someone put an abstract concept so eloquently into words. For someone who has experienced grieving, it was quite fascinating to be able to read these words that you never thought you’d be able to put on paper before.
Anyway: I was instantly able to compare his thoughts on grief and violence to the recent wave of racism and anti-islamic sentiments that has arisen in Western nations and countries around the world in the shadows of the recent attack on Paris and Beirut. Butler writes,
“Various terror alerts that go out over the media authorize and heighten racial hysteria in which fear is directed anywhere and nowhere, in which individuals are asked to be on guard but not told what to be on guard against; so everyone is free to imagine and identify the source of terror. The result is that an amorphous racism abounds, rationalized by the claim of “self-defense.”” (39)
I’d like to unpack this notion that Butler has stated. Recent refugee movement from Syria has created the political idea that the Syrian refugees seeking safe territory are the ones to blame for these inhumane attacks on society. It is interesting that westerners seek to pit Syrian refugees at the root of these attacks when they are running from the same thing that we are. The idea that we seek to shame them for ISIS in their homeland, when not one of us would choose to live in a land in which they flee from. These notions of blame come from the idea of Butler’s, that when people are left to freely identify the root of terror, it leads to racism, or as we know it today: anti-islam. It seems to be that placing these sentiments against the refugees from Syria is exactly what ISIS wanted from westerners, and it looks like they are getting exactly that.
I want to discuss a certain section of “Inside Syria,” before we meet in class as while reading it I found myself angered to the point of not being able to keep scrolling to read more. This situation in Syria today, as we know for contemporary times, is one of the most horrific crises one can possibly fathom. Hatred and political difference is rooted in these wakes of violence and crisis. After reading chapter 5, I was completely outraged to realize I did not even begin to think of the violence perpetuated against LGBTQ in Syria, and because of this I feel ignorant. I was quickly able to draw a diagram in my head in which the violence against LBGTQ and the violence against victims in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries like Palestine strongly correlate. These [LGBTQ] communities in the Middle East must live in secrecy or otherwise they will face severe consequences such as death, stoning, death penalty, and more. It is within this correlation that I was able to draw upon a recent technology in Kuwait that to me is absolutely absurd and humorous in intention. This technology is called the “gaydar,” in which will test the sexual orientation of expats entering the country through a screening. The creator proposes that this will prevent “the third sex” from entering the country as well. In Kuwait, if you are under the age of 21 and you engage in homosexual behavior, you will be placed in prison for 10 years or more. In other gulf countries, acting on homosexuality is punishable by death. In the wake of this violence in Syria and Palestine, it is important not to forger about the different subcategories underneath the whole population that already receives violence as a group. Living in Kuwait, I knew of multiple LGBTQ friends who had to live their live completely incognito, similar to the lives of the reported in “Inside Syria,” in which it illustrates how one woman was forced to marry and have children for a man by her family because she was exposed as lesbian. This sickens me, and as much as I want reform in these countries for the sake of humanity, I want it the most for these communities who cannot be comfortable in their own skin, their own homelands, and their own secret walls. I hope to see change one day in the streets I grew up on, as reading these exerts from articles like “inside Syria” I am reminded of the heartbreaking violence taken out on these communities that is far from acknowledgment for change within the government.
As I read Alimahomed’s writing on Homeland Security, I found myself repeatedly highlighting the number of times he wrote that “the war of terror is the single most privatized war in the history of the United States.” (p85) After reading this line, he introduces us to the relationship between the FBI and InfraGard. I truly became quite uncomfortable while reading about the dependent relationship between the two private and public sectors as I realized that critical and important information and intelligence necessary to protect the homeland is being circulated between these two companies meanwhile the CIA and FBI STILL have yet to find substantial consistency and peace in exchanging information. If two government funded sectors find difficulty in exchanging information, then why are the FBI and InfraGard finding it so easy? This makes me wonder something similar to Waylan’s post: Is this relationship formed out of greed and desire for profiting? Does leeking “sensitive but unclassified” (p94) information make it easier for citizens of the United States to rest safely at night? When the CIA released their report on 9/11 and the faults of the agents involved in security measures leading up to it, some pages were left blank in order to protect certain sensitive material. So, even though this information is public and “unclassified,” there is still information circulating from the report that the public eye will not lay eyes on, BUT, are companies like InfraGard given access to such withheld information.. because they “increase the quality and quantity of infrastructure intrusion/threat reports provided to local FBI field offices for investigation and follow-up and the NIPC for analysis” (p94) ? It concerns me that private sectors are handling such sensitive material, especially considering they are not properly trained to handle such intelligence data as much as an FBI agent or CIA agent is. As the author states, this “authorizes private corporations to police the public, as well as their own employees.” (95) Doesn’t this make one wonder who we’re trusting to analyze and handle intell that cannot even be released to citizens underneath the FBI? Who are the employees of InfraGard? Do they undergo special training like the government agents? Are they sworn to oath and threatened by punishment if they leak information or perform double agent type acts? Just something to think about…
Reading the Beck article, I was able to draw comparisons in his argument to the current security dilemma of airports in today’s society. We observe this dilemma that Beck describes in the direct relationship between increasing security and decrease in civilian happiness. When TSA announced their introduction to the full body scan shortly after 9/11, the community responded in outrage as it proposed “invasive” and “inappropriate” scans, and further vocalized their outrage to the other form of security search being the pat down performed by a TSA officer. These security processes have been born in order to prevent the unknown and decrease the risk of a security breach that could lead to such events like 9/11. Drawing off of this, it’s easy to assume that Beck’s statement “the state and technological culture may be under attack, but they are striking back…risks are the likely battle grounds for the somewhat hazy power space of global domestic policies,” (339) becomes more applicable. As these technologies surfaced in airports in the states, the global community responded by increasing their security to match such standards, thus organizing as a community in order to battle the unknown. This generated a category of “political catharsis” and “enforced cosmopolitism,” (340) as actors were forced to interact together in obtaining full global security across international airlines and gateways into other countries in order to battle this risk, as Beck describes. When the community responds in outrage, this proves to be enormous irony. When you purchase an airline ticket, you consent to use the public good of security that the nation in which you fly in and out of provides. In saying so, you agree to entering a secure and safe environment for your safely and others. It is crazy to me that people think that the security should be lessened as 14 years later we are surrounded by images of 9/11 due to this lack of security that airports once had. There was even such organizations in the states that tried to create a “national opt out day” for opting out of the full body scans. A Huffington post on TSA defense mechanisms elaborates this community response in more detail.