Contemporary Domestic Terrorism in the United States

Authored by: Carolyn Gallaher

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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We can learn a good deal about how Americans understand terrorism by the adjectives we place in front of it. When scholars, pundits, and everyday citizens modify terrorism with adjectives like “homegrown” or “domestic,” they signal that terrorism, in its most essential form, is something that happens “over there,” “outside” American borders. Likewise, when journalists and pundits describe terrorism occurring in the US as “attacks on American soil,” they suggest the terrorism in question is an aberration by virtue of its location. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, commentators started modifying terrorism more frequently with adjectives such as “Islamic” or “Middle Eastern.” The adjective assured us that even if the terrorists lived here, they were not from here or like “us” (citizens of a presumably Christian nation).

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