Reforming surveillance does nothing to end mass human intelligence gathering targeting Muslims. The 1AC’s omission isn’t neutral – it’s a false hope in structural reform that enables and excuses Islamophobia
Kundnani, 14—Arun, Professor of Terror Studies and Media @ NYU & John Jay College, formerly a Fellow @ Leiden U (Netherlands), an Open Society Fellow, and Editor of Race and Class. “No NSA reform can fix the American Islamophobic surveillance complex,” Mar 28, http://www.kundnani.org/2014/03/28/no-nsa-reform-can-fix-the-american-islamophobic-surveillance-complex/ --BR
Better oversight of the sprawling American national security apparatus may finally be coming: President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee unveiled plans this week to reduce bulk collection of telephone records. The debate opened up by Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing is about to get even more legalistic than all the parsing of hops and stores and metadata. These reforms may be reassuring, if sketchy. But for those living in so-called “suspect communities” – Muslim Americans, left-wing campaigners, “radical” journalists – the days of living on the receiving end of excessive spying won’t end there. How come when we talk about spying we don’t talk about the lives of ordinary people being spied upon? While we have been rightly outraged at the government’s warehousing of troves of data, we have been less interested in the consequences of mass surveillance for those most affected by it – such as Muslim Americans. In writing my book on Islamophobia and the War on Terror, I spoke to dozens of Muslims, from Michigan to Texas and Minnesota to Virginia. Some told me about becoming aware their mosque was under surveillance only after discovering an FBI informant had joined the congregation. Others spoke about federal agents turning up at colleges to question every student who happened to be Muslim. All of them said they felt unsure whether their telephone calls to relatives abroad were wiretapped or whether their emails were being read by government officials. There were the young Somali Americans in Minnesota who described how they and their friends were questioned by FBI agents for no reason other than their ethnic background. Some had been placed under surveillance by a local police department, which disguised its spying as a youth mentoring program and then passed the FBI intelligence on Somali-American political opinions. There were the Muslim students at the City University of New York who discovered that fellow students they had befriended had been informants all along, working for the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division and tasked with surveilling them. There was no reasonable suspicion of any crime; it was enough that the targeted students were active in the Muslim Students Association. And then there was Luqman Abdullah, a Detroit-based African-American imam, whose mosque was infiltrated by the FBI, leading to a 2009 raid in which he was shot and killed by federal agents. The government had no evidence of any terrorist plot; the sole pretext was that Abdullah had strongly critical views of the US government. These are the types of people whom the National Security Agency can suspect of being two “hops” away from targets. These are the types of “bad guys” referred to by outgoing NSA director Keith Alexander. Ten years ago, around 100,000 Arabs and Muslims in America had some sort of national security file compiled on them. Today, that number is likely to be even higher. A study published last year by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition documented the effects of this kind of mass surveillance. In targeted communities, a culture of enforced self-censorship takes hold and relationships of trust start to break down. As one interviewee said: “You look at your closest friends and ask: are they informants?” This is what real fear of surveillance looks like: not knowing whom to trust, choosing your words with care when talking politics in public, the unpredictability of state power. Snowden has rightly drawn our attention to the power of what intelligence agencies call “signals intelligence” – the surveillance of our digital communications – but equally important is “human intelligence”, the result of informants and undercover agents operating within communities.Underpinning all the surveillance of Muslim Americans is an assumption that Islamic ideology is linked to terrorism. Yet, over the last 20 years, far more people have been killed in acts of violence by right-wing extremists than by Muslim American citizens or permanent residents. The huge numbers being spied upon are not would-be terrorists but law-abiding people, some of whom have “radical” political opinions that still ought to be protected by the First Amendment to the constitution. Just the same, there are plenty of other minority Americans who are not would-be “home-grown” terrorists – but they still live in fear that they might be mistaken as one. So let’s reform the NSA and its countless collections. But let’s not forget the FBI’s reported 10,000 intelligence analysts working on counter-terrorism and the 15,000 paid informants helping them do it. Let’s not forget the New York Police Department’s intelligence and counter-terrorism division with its 1,000 officers, $100m budget and vast program of surveillance. Let’s not forget the especially subtle psychological terror of being Muslim in America, where, sure, maybe your phone calls won’t be stored for much longer, but there’s a multitude of other ways you’re always being watched.
Islamophobic policies mask the worst forms of ongoing structural violence
Kundnani, 15—Arun, Professor of Terror Studies and Media @ NYU & John Jay College, formerly a Fellow @ Leiden U (Netherlands), an Open Society Fellow, and Editor of Race and Class. The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror, p. 21-25 –BR
As scholars such as Eqbal Ahmad pointed out even before the war on terror, to designate an act of violence as terrorism is to arbitrarily isolate it from other acts of violence considered normal, rational, or necessary. The term "terrorism'' is never used to refer to the military violence of Western states, or to the daily reality of gender-based violence, for example, both of which ought also to be labeled terrorism according to the term's usual definition: violence against innocent civilians designed to advance a political cause(the maintenance of patriarchy is eminently political). As such, each use of the term "terrorism" is an inherently political act. The definition of terrorism is never applied consistently, because to do so would mean the condemnatory power of the term would have to be applied to our violence as much as theirs, thereby defeating the word's usefulness. 45 Ahmad's point finds no better illustration than Congressman Peter King, who today rails against the radicalization of Muslim Americans but in the 1980s gave what would now be called material support to the Irish Republican Army by encouraging fund-raising among Irish Americans and telling a 1982 rally in Nassau County, New York: "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” If the British army's presence in Northern Ireland in the 1980s was imperialism, then presumably its more recent presence in Afghanistan must also be so described. If terrorism is defined as violence against innocent civilians designed to advance a political cause, the Woolwich attack in London is properly described as an act of terrorism. The victim was a combat ant, but he was not present on a battlefield, so it is appropriate to describe him at that time as a civilian. However, by the same definition, all the racist murders that occur in Britain and the US are also acts of terrorism, because the perpetrators are trying to send a political message to minority communities (i.e., intimidate them into a subordinate status). Like the violent acts we normally think of as terrorism, racist violence not only takes the lives of its immediate victims, but also sends a larger message of fear to the wider population.47 Yet terrorism and racist violence are not considered to be equally significant threats by governments and the establishment media echo chamber. While the murder of Lee Rigby was a major national event, prompting a flurry of government actions, policy responses, and public discussion, racist murders are rarely reported beyond the local newspaper. This difference cannot be explained as a matter of the scale of harm each form of violence inflicts. In Europe, the violence carried out by far Right groups, which have racism as a central part of their ideology, is of a similar magnitude to that of jihadist violence: at least 249 people died in incidents of far Right violence between 1990 and 2012; 263 were killed by jihadists over the same period.48 In the US, between 1990 and 2010, there were 145 acts of political violence committed by the American far Right, resulting in 348 deaths.49 In comparison, 20 people were killed over the same period in acts of political violence carried out by Muslim-American citizens or long-term residents of the US.50 Both categories of violence represent threats to democratic values from fellow citizens. Whereas the former uses violence to foment a change in the ethnic makeup of Western countries or to defend racial supremacy, the latter uses violence to try to intimidate Western governments into changing their foreign policies. Ultimately, to be more concerned about one domestic threat of violence rather than the other implies governments and mainstream journalists consider foreign policies more sacrosanct than the security of minority citizens. The political act of labeling certain forms of violence as terrorism is also usually a racialized act. This was revealed dearly in the hours after the attacks in Boston and Woolwich, before the identities of the perpetrators were known. Speculation in the US media as to whether the attacks were domestic or international terrorism used those terms as codes to talk about whether the perpetrators were white (and therefore assumed to be either crazed "lone wolves" or far Right "patriots") or Muslim (and therefore to be understood as driven by the same alien ideology that produced 9/11). When CNN's John King commented that the person arrested for the Boston attack had been identified as a "dark-skinned man;' it was not just an individual gaffe but the making explicit of the racial subtext to the entire discourse of counterterrorism. 51 On MSNBC, Chris Matthews asked his terrorism expert guests whether government analysts would be able to tell from the surveillance images of the suspects if they were "from Yemen or other parts like that '52 The suspect's face was being asked to reveal a racial identity that would, in turn, tell us whether he was one of "them'' or one of "us” and therefore what kind of emotional response to the bombing would be appropriate. As it turned out, the suspects were in every sense Caucasian. In reporting the Woolwich murder, the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, made a strikingly similar slip, describing one of the assailants as being of "Muslim appearance:'53 The black man he was referring to was wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a wooly hat; nevertheless his "Muslimness" had somehow become visible, thereby justifying the use of the term "terrorist". A month earlier, another UK murder had taken place that was barely noticed, let alone named as a terrorist act. Mohammed Saleem, a seventy-five-year-old Muslim man from Birmingham, had been stabbed three times in the back as he left his local mosque. Only later in July, when the perpetrator was arrested and found to have also bombed two mosques in the weeks after the Woolwich attack, did pressure from community activists force the police to also describe his crimes as terrorism. 54 The default assumption remains that the term "terrorist" is reserved for acts of political violence carried out by Muslims. The events of 9/11, of course, stand out as the worst single day of nonstate terrorism in the modern era. But the stream of similarly devastating a tacks that security officials predicted in the years after 2001 has not materialized while the basic mind-set of counterterror ism has not adjusted: its reflexes are much the same as they were on September 12, 2001. Certainly there have been a handful of plots, such as that of Najibullah Zazi in 2009, in which a terrorist act would likely have occurred in the US were it not for the government's investigative efforts (although the argument that successful investigations depended on warrantless surveillance did not stand up to scrutiny).55 And a series of potentially devastating jihadist plots have been detected in Britain. Of course, governments claim the absence of a greater number of successful attacks is a result of their policy choices. But a closer look at the actual arrests made by governments suggests a somewhat different account. Those arrested for terrorist crimes bear scant resemblance to the popular image of Muslim fanatics out to destroy Western civilization through spectacular acts of violence. Of the 176 Muslims indicted or arrested for involvement in terrorism in the US between 2001 and 2010, a significant number were prosecuted not for violence but for "expressive" and charitable activities that the government considers "material support" for terrorism-but which would likely have been considered lawful before 9/11.56 Others are accused not of threatening violence in the US but of traveling to other parts of the world to join local insurgencies. Most of the remainder are individuals who have been convicted because agents provocateurs spent months pressuring them to agree to participate in imaginary plots they would never have been able to organize by themselves- in these cases, the only radicalization taking place was that carried out by the FBI. To a large degree the US government is fantasizing into existence the very threat of domestic jihadism it claims it is fighting. In dedicating tens of billions of dollars a year to fighting a domestic threat of terrorist violence that is largely imagined, the US government has neglected the challenge of creating a genuinely peaceful society.57 An ideologically driven focus on Muslim Americans as the prime threat of violence goes hand in hand with a normalization of the fact that in the US fifteen thousand people are murdered each year.58 Indeed, the political scientist John Mueller has illustrated how our conception of the terrorist threat is shaped more by ideology than objectivity. He has calculated as follows: "In almost all years the total number of people worldwide who die at the hands of international terrorists is not much more than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States:'59 In the United Kingdom, despite the focus on al-Qaeda, the number of deaths caused by sectarianism in Northern Ireland over the last decade is similar to the number of lives lost in jihadist attacks. According to the University of Ulster, there were sixty-two deaths related to the conflict in Northern Ireland between 2002 and 2011. There were fifty-three deaths as a result of jihadist violence in the UK over the same period.60 Contrast those numbers with the loss of life in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as a result of the wars the US has fought since 9/ 11. Scholars at the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies calculated in 2013 that those wars had led to the deaths of 270,000 people, the most conservative of such estimates.61 A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated that the Iraq war had led to 655,000 deaths as of July 2006, before the worst period of violence.62 One of the key arguments of this book is that to comprehend the causes of so-called jihadist terrorism we need to pay as much attention to Western state violence, and the identity politics that sustains it, as we do to Islamist ideology. What governments call extremism is to a large degree a product of their own wars.
Structural violence is invisible and exponential and you have an ethical duty to challenge it
Three primary concerns animate this book, chief among them my conviction that we urgently need torethink-politically, imaginatively, and theoretically-what I call "slow violence." By slow violence I mean a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all. Violence is customarily conceived as an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and as erupting into instant sensational visibility. We need, I believe, to engage a different kind of violence, a violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales. In so doing, we also need to engage the representational, narrative, and strategic challenges posed by the relative invisibility of slow violence. Climate change, the thawing cryosphere, toxic drift, biomagnification, deforestation, the radioactive aftermaths of wars, acidifying oceans, and a host of other slowly unfolding environmental catastrophes present formidable representational obstacles that can hinder our efforts to mobilize and act decisively. The long dyings-the staggered and staggeringly discounted casualties, both human and ecological that result from war's toxic aftermaths or climate change-are underrepresented in strategic planning as well as in human memory. Had Summers advocated invading Africa with weapons of mass destruction, his proposal would have fallen under conventional definitions of violence and been perceived as a military or even an imperial invasion. Advocating invading countries with mass forms of slow-motion toxicity, however, requires rethinking our accepted assumptions of violence to include slow violence. Such a rethinking requires that we complicate conventional assumptions about violence as a highly visible act that is newsworthy because it is event focused, time bound, and body bound. We need to account for how the temporal dispersion of slow violence affects the way we perceive and respond to a variety of social afflictions-from domestic abuse to posttraumatic stress and, in particular, environmental calamities. A major challenge is representational: how to devise arresting stories, images, and symbols adequate to the pervasive but elusive violence of delayed effects. Crucially, slow violence is often not just attritional but also exponential, operating as a major threat multiplier; it can fuel long-term, proliferating conflicts in situations where the conditions for sustaining life become increasingly but gradually degraded.