Two days before America marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the PBS talk show Amanpour & Co. rolled out the red carpet for leftist journalist Spencer Ackerman to promote his new book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump.
The real villains in this narrative are nativist, racist right-wingers apparently running the federal government’s anti-terrorist infrastructure. PBS NewsHour weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan raised no challenge to this thesis. He merely sets up long answers. The first question: “Let’s pick on the title a little bit….How do we get from 9/11 to Trump?”
ACKERMAN: So 9/11 and the War on Terror that results from it is a doorway into American history and particularly a doorway that opens to the most nativist, the most racist and violent elements of American history, and allows those tendencies in American history to retake power under cover of a national emergency that requires in the telling of the War on Terror, violent redress. Culturally, it creates an atmosphere of fear, hysteria and anger towards Islam in general and toward American Muslims specifically, and sweeping in a lot of very traditional nativist rage against immigration and the processes that enable it. And then, once in power, it starts to transform the American security apparatus into something far more lawless and far more punitive than recent history had, even though it builds upon a lot of foundations, particularly mass incarceration, that already exist in American history.
And then the wars start to go terribly. They start to be very obvious disasters. And for a segment of the population that had their traumatic reactions to 9/11 manipulated, particularly by right wing politicians with the acquiescence of Democratic politicians, this condition becomes kind of intolerable and they go searching for explanations and seek political leadership that will channel that rage. And that is what sets the stage for Donald Trump.
Ackerman argued “The War on Terror is only aimed at Muslims. White terror never has anything to fear from the War on Terror.” This brought more publicist questions:
HARI SREENIVASAN: So you’re saying that this is essentially a way for us to sugarcoat that we’re really only talking about attacks from Muslim brown guys from overseas? Because one of the justifications for the intelligence apparatus, the counterterrorism infrastructure that we’ve built is, hey, you know what, since 9/11 we haven’t had that type of an attack.
ACKERMAN: That’s correct. This was never going to be an enterprise that cared a thing about, say, white terror training camps in northeastern Oklahoma or the Pacific Northwest or any of the hundreds of militias around the country made up of white people with guns from on the border or in the interior.
Earth to PBS: While it is true that no Islamic terrorist action ever rivaled 9/11 in scope, Islamic terrorism continued to erupt domestically (Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Orlando, etc). Obama didn’t like the term “war on terror,” and could be accused of going soft on terrorist groups, dismissing ISIS as a “JV team.”
PS: PBS also promoted Ackerman’s radical ravings on social media.
“The United States never allows itself to recognize that the war on terror generates its own enemies and makes Americans less safe,” says Spencer Ackerman, author of “Reign of Terror.” @hari @attackerman pic.twitter.com/IfKNj7IzxG
— Amanpour and Company (@AmanpourCoPBS) September 9, 2021
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