Race, terror and civil society

The January 2006 edition of the IRR journal Race & Class opens with an essay by A. Sivanandan on the politics of anti-terrorism in Britain after 7/7, continues with Graham Usher’s analysis of Israel’s West Bank wall and features articles on the detention of Muslims in the US after 9/11 and the US Right’s rise to power, while the World Bank’s policies over the last decade are surveyed by Walden Bello and Shalmali Guttal.

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Race, terror and civil society, by A Sivanandan

After the London bombings of 7 July, new anti-terrorist legislation has been brought forward; multiculturalism has come under attack; anti-Muslim racism has increased at every level of British society. Political and public debate are threaded through with the politics of fear. This wide-ranging analysis, by the founding editor of Race & Class, provides a framework for understanding the dynamic interconnections between the new racism thrown up by the processes of globalisation and modern empire, the increasing threat to civil liberties and the alienation felt by many young Muslims.

The wall and the dismemberment of Palestine, by Graham Usher

Israel’s construction of a separation wall through the West Bank and East Jerusalem represents the latest stage in Zionism’s attempts to resolve its ‘native problem’. By confining Palestinians to a series of disconnected cantons, it deprives them of political and territorial contiguity. But the wall also embodies a demographic rationale: it is the threat of a majority-Arab population under Israel’s charge that determines the wall’s route and its exclusion of areas where Palestinians are concentrated. The author, a journalist based in Jerusalem, concludes that the challenge for the Palestinians is how to develop an effective strategy of resistance to the wall and the occupation it is a part of.

Surviving the dragnet: ‘Special interest’ detainees in the US after 9/11, by Shubh Mathur

Following the 9/11 attacks in the US, thousands of Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern men were detained by the FBI, police and immigration officers and held in various prisons in New York and New Jersey. The effect of these detentions on individuals, their families and the wider community is here documented. The purpose of this incarceration, which often endured for months without charges being brought, was not to ensure greater security but to surveil and intimidate what had been designated, via an official and popular discourse of anti-Muslim racism, as a ‘suspect community’. In responding to these abuses, those affected have deployed a mixed discourse of liberal-democratic rights, drawing on various traditions, despite postmodern reservations about ‘human rights’ values.

Globalisation, theocracy and the new fascism: the US Right’s rise to power, by Carl Davidson and Jerry Harris

The Christian Right is an increasingly powerful phenomenon in US politics. Extremely influential in the current administration, it has been building a mass base across the nation. This analysis of a movement that has been growing over the past four decades reveals the complex interrelationships between its different strands, their reach into the mass media, their war of attrition against socially liberal legislation and the opportunistic links with elements of the pro-Israel lobby. Also examined are the contradictions and potential contradictions within its different facets. Most alarming are those elements which revile, as anti-Christian, the very concept of a democratic society in their aim at overall ‘dominion’.

The limits of reform: the Wolfensohn era at the World Bank, by Walden Bello and Shalmali Guttal

With the appointment in 1995 of James Wolfensohn to the presidency of the World Bank began an attempt to recast the negative image that the Bank had acquired as a result of its widely criticised structural adjustment programmes, land resettlement schemes and large dam projects in developing countries. ‘Poverty reduction’ and ‘good governance’ were to be the new watchwords and civil society organisations were invited to engage in a process of dialogue and reform. The various initiatives introduced by the World Bank during Wolfensohn’s ten-year presidency are surveyed here by two staff members of the Bangkok-based research, analysis and advocacy organisation Focus on the Global South.

Europe: ‘speech crime’ and deportation, by Liz Fekete

Throughout Europe, reforms to immigration law are being introduced which effectively tie rights to citizenship and residence to limitations on freedom of speech; the penalty for breaching these is, increasingly, deportation. So far, these measures have only been applied to Muslims, usually religious leaders, held to have made inflammatory or offensive statements – offences which could be dealt with under existing public order law. The author, a senior researcher on the IRR’s European Race Audit, argues that the use of immigration legislation to deal with such issues bypasses the need for judicial transparency and overrides the rights of the accused.

Race & Class is published quarterly, in January, April, July and October, by Sage Publications for the Institute of Race Relations; individual subscriptions are £27/$47, for four issues, with an introductory rate of £20/$35 for new subscribers.

Related links

Race & Class: a journal on racism, empire and globalisation

Plus reviews. A5, 110pp., ISBN 1-4129-2150-3. Race & Class, Vol. 47, no. 3, January-March 2006.