Saturday, October 26, 2019

The United States of Emergency :: September 11 Terrorism Essays

The United States of Emergency We are living in an ongoing crisis, a long-term state of emergency. We are at war all over the world (U.S. government officials tell us that Al-Qaeda operates in or from 60 countries). We have partial martial law within our country, most obviously in airports. Escalation has taken over. Killing has escalated. Fear has escalated. This gives diversity consciousness a new resonance, a new bottom line. It gives people a renewed purpose. Diversity is the key to survival. So the logic is clear: diversity must be escalated. "They don't think like we do," said a U.S. terrorism expert. "I could never imagine myself diving a plane into a building and killing people." The response of some people shows their cognitive/imaginative threshold. Some people were conceptually blocked. "I can't imagine how they could do that," said many people after Sept. 11. When we define some people as deviant, we can't approach them in our usual way, it puts them beyond our reach, or else we would have to admit that their deviance is within our repertoire as well. The more different from our norm someone is, the more we are challenged to bridge the distance. When we live with great overlap and similarity, we don't practice making contact with "the farther reaches of human nature" (the title of a book by Abraham Maslow), our own or someone else's. We talked about outsiders and outcasts in connection with the School shootings of the past few years. When I was teaching "Lord of the Flies" to a high school English class, students were quick to dismiss a character as nuts. They accepted only a narrow band of normal. We write off, avoid, demonize, pathologize, those who seem different. We homogenize our mental/emotional/political environment. We reinforce our norms and convince ourselves we are the most normal AND the most special people in existence. Feminists are terrorists to a male-dominant world order. Someone who is considered deviant is by definition not accessible in the usual mode and is seen as a threat to one's stability and security. "A physician has to enter the consciousness and subjectivity of the patient or he's not a good physician," says Dr. Oliver Sacks. Dr. Jerrold Post, George Washington University psychiatrist, has been giving interviews in which he says the terrorists are not psychotic.

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