Discussing Terrorism, After 9/11

It has been sixteen years since the Twin Towers collapsed, forever changing the physical and emotional landscape of those who call the United States their home, and those worldwide who stand in solidarity. Today, we remember those we’ve lost. But we also consider the changes that 9/11 has brought, such as it’s impact on democracy, and how we can remind future generations of students and people about what this day means.

Since 9/11, how have our discussions about terrorism, whether it be by individuals or groups, changed? And how do we view other people worldwide in light of what has happened since that day?

Below, we’ve included some recommended reading to help share the continuing conversation on terrorism and its impact on our global society. #neverforget #Sept11th #Remember911

The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 edited by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

“Over its 109 years of existence, these historians [of this edited volume] and their colleagues argue, the Bureau has shaped American religious history through targeted investigations and religiously tinged rhetoric about national security.”—The Atlantic

Hear more about timely lessons for the FBI in the age of Trump. And read a sample chapter from the book.

Terror in the Mind of God, Fourth Edition: The Global Rise of Religious Violence by Mark Juergensmeyer. 

“Juergensmeyer’s work is a sensitive, comparative study of terrorist movements and the religious beliefs that motivate them.”—Washington Post

Read an excerpt regarding Burmese Buddhists and the persecution of Rohingya Muslims. And read a sample chapter from the book.

 

Constructions of Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Research and Policy edited by Michael Stohl, Richard Burchill, and Scott Howard Englund

“Counter-terrorism would be less counterproductive if policymakers would take heed of their advice.” —Alex P. Schmid, Research Fellow and Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague

And read the introduction from the book.

 

The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to ISIS, Updated Edition with a New Preface and Final Chapter edited by Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin

“Provides a useful and levelheaded survey of a subject that is regularly misunderstood and often manipulated.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A recommendable book for sociologists, anthropologists and social scientists who are interested by these types of hot topics.”—International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies

Read a sample chapter from the book.

Caravan of Martyrs: Sacrifice and Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan by David B. Edwards 

“Such a beautifully written and imaginative work comes along rarely—at once a deeply felt personal memoir about the author’s anthropological encounters with Afghanistan and a highly original theory about suicide bombing as sacrifice.”—Steven C. Caton, Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies, Harvard University

Read a sample chapter from the book.

A Culture of Conspiracy, 2nd Edition: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America by Michael Barkun

“Ideas, even bizarre and marginalized ideas, do have consequences, and we ignore them at our peril. Barkun’s explorations, like the canary in the coal mine, warn us of what may lie ahead.”—Paul Boyer Christian Century

Read an interview with the author. And read an excerpt from the book.

 

The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays by Richard Taruskin

“This is one of the most important books about music you’ll read this year. . . . No one has bridged the gap between music scholarship and mainstream media as virtuosically as Taruskin.”—Tom Service The Guardian

Read a sample chapter from the book.


Who Was Reinhold Niebuhr? And Why Was He Targeted by the FBI?

The revelation that James Comey has a secret Twitter account led to further examination this week of the name associated with the purported account: Reinhold Niebuhr. Theories abound about why the Director of the FBI would choose this name, drawing attention to the fact that Niebuhr was the topic of Comey’s senior thesis when he was a student at the College of William and Mary. A prominent theologian, Niebuhr influenced public figures ranging from Martin Luther King, Jr. to former presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

He also had a lengthy file with the FBI.

In The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11, contributor Dianne Kirby’s essay “J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and the Religious Cold War” looks at why Reinhold Niebuhr was under FBI surveillance, excerpted below:

At the end of the Eisenhower administration Reinhold Niebuhr, America’s leading theologian, declared that the West had been successfully inoculated against communism “by the historical dynamism of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” The religious triumphalism concealed a more complex reality that would become apparent over the course of the 1960s. American policies and practices were coming under increasing scrutiny and criticism, and the depiction of the East-West confrontation as one between good and evil, a crucial element for Hoover’s exercise of power and influence, was becoming less and less tenable. . . . Vietnam caused Niebuhr himself to question whether the two superpowers were radically different and to wonder whether they had each revealed “similar imperialist impulses.”

Niebuhr would go on to become a founding member of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam (CALCAV) . . . Despite efforts by various intelligence agencies to weaken the peace movement, CALCAV continued to grow. FBI interest in the organization intensified as well . . . surveillance of what were deemed “radical” Christians was intended to intimidate and deter. Those still prepared to adopt the tactics of civil disobedience, break the law, and accept the consequences in order to dramatize and publicize the issues faced the full brunt of the law, including imprisonment. They included the Berrigan brothers, priests Phil and Dan (a cofounder of CALCAV). Along with other Christians involved in their protest, they became fugitives to maximize the political symbolism of their cause. A massive FBI operation was implemented that involved surveilling and searching religious buildings and personnel, but the FBI’s manhunt for the Berrigans ended as a public relations debacle for the bureau . . . The history of CALCAV shows that FBI practices and views did not change in this period, but it also reveals Hoover’s declining ability to control public opinion, along with growing division and discontent within churches regarding their relationship with the state.

Continue reading “Who Was Reinhold Niebuhr? And Why Was He Targeted by the FBI?”


A Reading List for the Next Presidential Era

Today we officially enter a new world ripe for change—both good and bad—as well as unprecedented conflict and inequality. Read on to discover some of our new and forthcoming titles that will help you make sense of the next four years.

Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other by Mugambi Jouet

Why does a country built on the concept of liberty have 9780520293298the highest incarceration rate in the world? How could the first Western nation to elect a person of color as its leader suffer from institutional racism? How does Christian fundamentalism coexist with gay marriage in the American imagination? In essence, what makes the United States exceptional? In this provocative exploration of American exceptionalism, Mugambi Jouet examines why Americans are far more divided than other Westerners over basic issues—including wealth inequality, health care, climate change, evolution, the literal truth of the Bible, abortion, gay rights, gun control, mass incarceration, and war.

 

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary by Ronald Rael

Borderwall as Architecture is an artistic and intellectual hand 9780520283947-1grenade of a book, and a timely re-examination of what the physical barrier that divides the United States of America from the United Mexican States is and could be. It is both a protest against the wall and a projection about its future. Through a series of propositions suggesting that the nearly seven hundred miles of wall is an opportunity for economic and social development along the border that encourages its conceptual and physical dismantling, the book takes readers on a journey along a wall that cuts through a “third nation”—the Divided States of America.

 

 

La Nueva California: Latinos from Pioneers to Post-Millenials by David Hayes-Bautista

9780520292536Since late 2001 more than fifty percent of the babies born in California have been Latino. When these babies reach adulthood, they will, by sheer force of numbers, influence the course of the Golden State. Spanning one hundred years, this complex, fascinating analysis suggests that the future of Latinos in California will be neither complete assimilation nor unyielding separatism. Instead, the development of a distinctive regional identity will be based on Latino definitions of what it means to be American.

 

 

 

The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 edited by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

9780520287280The Federal Bureau of Investigation has had a long and tortuous relationship with religion over almost the entirety of its existence. The FBI and Religion recounts this fraught and fascinating history, focusing on key moments in the Bureau’s history. Starting from the beginnings of the FBI before World War I, moving through the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War, up to 9/11 and today, this book tackles questions essential to understanding not only the history of law enforcement and religion, but also the future of religious liberty in America.

 

 

Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide by Ruth Braunstein

9780520293656In the wake of the Great Recession and rising discontent with government responsiveness to ordinary citizens, participants in two very different groups—a progressive faith-based community organization and a conservative Tea Party group—worked together to become active and informed citizens, put their faith in action, and hold government accountable. Prophets and Patriots offers a fresh look at two active grassroots movements and highlights cultural convergences and contradictions at the heart of American political culture.

 

 

 

How May I Help You? An Immigrant’s Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage by Deepak Singh

9780520293311In this moving and insightful work, Deepak Singh chronicles his downward mobility as an immigrant to a small town in Virginia. Armed with an MBA from India, Singh can get only a minimum-wage job in an electronics store. Every day he confronts unfamiliar American mores, from strange idioms to deeply entrenched racism. How May I Help You? is an incisive take on life in the United States and a reminder that the stories of low-wage employees can bring candor and humanity to debates about work, race, and immigration.