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Terror Talk: A Genealogy of the Racialization of the Muslim Body and of Right Wing Anti-Terrorism Rhetoric in Trump’s America

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

On September 11th , 2001, men working for the extremist group, Al-Qaeda, hijacked commercial airplanes and targeted several United States federal buildings: The Pentagon, The White House, and the World Trade Center in New York City. This caused an uproar within the US state and civil society, along with a mass-media coverage on the “terrorist” attacks; this event also resulted in an outbreak of hate-crimes towards Muslims, and those who were believed to be Muslim. The Muslim body was somehow identifiable. A set of religious beliefs turned into an indicator of appearance, and it was the way that the United States utilized biopolitical tactics to marginalize and control this new racial “other.” It is tactics such as Special Registration, among others like preemptive strike that were implemented by the Bush administration that exacerbate the discourse surrounding Muslims as “terrorists.” The term becomes racialized, and the identity of the Muslim becomes intertwined within its meaning. Islam as a religion has been turned into something that can be aesthetically identified. Things like special registration have become ways to make legible and simplify a set of religious beliefs. Sets of thoughts. Ideas.

On November 9th 2017 Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States. The predecessor to the first black president--Barack Obama--and former reality TV star, was inaugurated in January 2017. The rhetoric during his campaign explicitly targeted minority communities such as the black, latinx, and Muslim population living in the United States. Trump’s tactics such as the border wall, discrimination towards black people, and the Muslim ban heightened the number of hate crimes. Donald Trump’s rhetoric spurs from a long-intact pattern of the Muslim as “other.” In this thesis, I trace a genealogy to reveal the structures that were the foundation of the United States that allow President Donald Trump to continue using the rhetoric of terror to expel Muslims from this country. I analyze Donald Trump's Muslim Ban, the president's own rhetoric, as well as alt right news media. I use Giorgio Agamben’s framework of the state of exception, as well as the histories involving the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of the Moors to lay bare the power structures that created what Nicholas DeGenova calls the specter of Terror.

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