Former attorney general John Ashcroft noted the importance of blurring all distinctions years ago. "In this new war, our enemy's platoons infiltrate our borders, quietly blending in with visiting tourists, students, and workers," he proclaimed in June 2002. "They move unnoticed through our cities, neighborhoods, and public spaces. They wear no uniforms. Their camouflage is not forest green, but rather it is the color of common street clothing. Their tactics rely on evading recognition at the border and escaping detection within the United States. Their terrorist mission is to defeat America, destroy our values and kill innocent people."
It's all right there, hidden in plain sight. Terrorists are Muslims, Muslims are immigrants, immigrants are residents. Around it goes. Increasingly, immigration enforcement is becoming an anti-terrorism effort. Anyone and everyone is a suspect. That is the reality played out at every airport; it is the narrative touched by every monitored email and tapped telephone call.
We are a fearful nation eating away at itself and the wolves are prowling the southern borders. Welcome to Congress, 2011.
Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer . His most recent book is Mohamed's Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland. To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest TomCast audio interview in which Stephan Salisbury discusses the terror dreams of a nostalgic empire, click here or, to download it to your iPod, here.
Copyright 2010 Stephan Salisbury