Moral Panic

Some actions in Western countries following the September 11 attacks affecting Arabs, Muslims, or those mistaken for them have comprised a moral panic. One very unfortunate example of this was the shooting dead of Jean Charles De Menezes who was suspected of being a terrorist 2 weeks after the London bombings. He looked nothing like another suspected terrorist who had a similar skin color. It’s turned out in the subsequent inquest that he was innocent and of brazillian descent

Jeffrey S. Victor is a professor of sociology at Jamestown Community College and he analysed the mass movement from the terror attacks in Newyork to the Terrorism Scare that created a moral panic in the western world.

Surprise at the attack by islamic extremists on the continent for the first time in over a century and the originality and simplicity with which the attack was orchestrated created mass concern that there would be another attack. This lead to Hostility towards the Islamists and a clear division between “them” and “us” with the “war on terror” mass media coverage. Consensus created by unified anger at the attacks and George Bush’s “axis of evil” led to widespread acceptance that the group in question posed a very real threat to society. Bush at this stage acted very vocally, and as we’ve seen in the decade since the attacks, the invasion of Iraq was one of disproportionality to the actual threat posed by the accused group which were operating in Afganistan. The volatility of this relationship played its part in the death of Jean Charles De Menezes


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