The war against “homegrown terrorism” is on. Enter the thought police.
Perhaps no campaign tactic is more effective than fearmongering, and in the current presidential race the sum of all fears, once again, is radical Islamic terrorists—or “jihadists,” to use the now-ubiquitous term. On the Republican side, it’s a pissing match over who can look toughest against this shadowy enemy, with John McCain running ads showing masked Islamic gunmen, while Mitt Romney spouts the old neocon warning about forces that want to “unite the world under a single jihadist caliphate.” Although the Democrats’ rhetoric is more restrained, Hillary Clinton didn’t hesitate to suggest that the new president might quickly face another terrorist attack on American soil, as part of her quest to convince voters they need her cool-headed experience.
Largely ignored by the mainstream candidates—as well as the mainstream media—are the latest efforts to bring the fear home by targeting “homegrown terrorism”—another new catchphrase. Only liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich and libertarian Republican Ron Paul have warned that in the name of stopping domestic terrorist plots before they happen, Congress is in the midst of passing legislation aimed not at actual hate crimes or even terrorist conspiracies, but at talking, Web surfing, or even thinking about jihadism or other “extremist belief systems.” Last October, a piece of legislation called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 sailed through the House with near-universal bipartisan support; it is likely to reach the floor of the Senate early this year and appears certain to be signed into law.
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