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Terror in Modern Times

20th April 2010

On April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, ending the lives of 168 people. It was the worst terrorist attack in America, until, of course, the attacks on September 11, 2001. In an op-ed piece published yesterday in The New York Times, Bill Clinton ruminated on the aftermath, 15 years later. The former president invokes the kindness of those who helped in relief efforts, the strength of the survivors, and the enduring legacy of the innocents who died that day. He cautions, “Criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. No one is right all the time. But we should remember that there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.”

In The Rhetoric of Terror: Reflections on 9/11 and the War on Terror, Marc Redfield examines the cultural impact of terrorism and what it means when such shocking acts of violence saturate our media and society. Redfield astutely blends the philosophy of Jacques Derrida with the modern concepts of “virtual terror” and the “war on terror.”

Forthcoming in August is Wild Materialism: The Ethic of Terror and the Modern Republic. Jacques Lezra examines political philosophy in a contemporary climate, musing on questions such as how can social unity be achieved in a divergent culture? If so, does such unity require certain universal laws? What does democracy mean in a culture of globalization, terrorism, and fundamentalism? In contemplating these questions, Lezra gets to the root of what our politics really mean in our modern world.