March 22, 2011

American Terrorism

First would like to thank all the LoF guys for letting me use the blog as my english project guniea pig. Now onto the content.

"Americans have been taught that their nation is civilized and humane. But, too often, U.S. actions have been uncivilized and inhumane."

When asked to find a social issue I chose American Exceptionalism, the very system of thought that I think is responsible for the majority of the world's problems today. Chris very simply and perfectly describes American Exceptionalism in the previous post. America believes that it is ontologically ordained to carry out its messianic "errand in the wilderness." That is to order and control, to play global sheriff.

On face it may seem like a political issue, however both republican presidents and democratic presidents have waged wars in the name of manifest destiny. Left and right wing dominated congresses and the entirety of the American population has supported the system of thought. The problem is we fail to be reflexive and understand that our history is bathed in the oceans of blood of innocent people slaughtered by America.

Grenada. Panama. Kosovo. Somalia. The Trail of Tears. Nicaragua. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Libya. What do they all have in common? Military intervention.

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When playing global sheriff the U.S. utilizes triumphantalist discourse to mobilize the public. During Vietnam we told ourselves that the North Vietnamese were communist, they did not subscribe to a democratic system of government therefore they have to be eliminated. In Afghanistan they are radical Islamic fundamentalists who do not fit the model of the evangelical right resonance machine. When confronted with difference America like all other hegemonies reacts violently plowing it over not allowing room for dissent or interaction. This attittude, this American Exceptionalism has culminated in a violent cycle that continues to grow. My Lai. Abu Ghraib. Dreseden. Those who do not fit within the model proposed by the U.S. become violently excluded: The Vietcong had to be napalmed. We had to firebomb Dresden. We had to fire upon Libya.

So why is it such a problem? Well other then the "American Terrorism" that napalms children in their sleep, American Exceptionalism creates the conditions for war. Post-Colonial nations are the nations where wars are waged today. Countries that the U.S. previous;y "gave democracy" are now the countries we label as the "Axis of Evil" such as Iran. The wars and resentment toward America only arise when America acts as the world sheriff. Terrorists only lash out because American Exceptionalism ruins their countries.

The solution? Education. To understand our history of violence and to be reflexive. We must remain unanswerable to American exceptionalism, like the Vietcong we must not come out of the jungle. We must arm ourselves with knowledge. The Vietcong brought down the system by hiding in the shadows and that is what must be done to bring down the exceptionalist system.

"In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure the only adventure that remains s to abolish the society"-Graffiti Writers of May '68

Accompanying video here


  1. This is an interesting post--although, I don't get a distinct sense of exactly how 'terrorism' is being considered here or what it is that we can call 'American Terrorism.'

    Is the argument terrorism is utilized as a method of resistance because of an already existing utilization of terror by the state? Is 'American Terrorism' 'American' because of an ideology of exceptionalism and its imperial practice?

    I think you need to be careful to define this thing called 'American Terrorism.' Otherwise, you run the risk of casting resistance to state oppression, even where terrorism is utilized, under the same ideology of exceptionalism.

    Also, when we think of terrorism as a problem, we should be sure not to write it off in favor of some kind of depoliticization or a simplistic binary between pacifism and violence.

    Good post.

  2. Thanks for your comment. The original post was much longer and more specific to how the tactics used by America to carry out its exceptionalism is similar to terrorist activities--however the post was too long so i cut that out and failed to change the name.

    Your last paragraph is awesome actually. I feel like it provides a great way to view some middle east 'problems' like the israel-palestine conflict.