Sunday, August 15, 2021

Ezra Klein interviews Spencer Ackerman, about his "Reign of Terror" book, and what Trump understood about 9/11


Freedom Tower tour, 2014/6

Ezra Klein previews the book by Spencer Ackerman, “Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump”, from Viking Press, 445 pages, e-book and hardcover, somewhat pricey.

Ackerman has written for The New Republic, Wired, the Guardian, and the Daily Beast.  This is his first book.

The (New York Times) review consists of a podcast here commentary and interview, where there is also a text transcript offered.  Reading a transcript goes faster than listening to a podcast.

Klein feels that Bush painted this as a battle against the “other”, that wants to change us to be like them, which could play even into the race card (“brown people’).

The actual interview starts out by talking about birtherism and Obama.

He then gets into the scale of the surveillance state that Bush started building and had constructed fully by 2008, before Obama ran – who could be presented by neoconservatives as an enemy because of how he looks. 

Klein says neocons thought they could harness the fear of the “others”, but Trump took it further, into an “aggrieved, vengeful patriotism”.  We must not only confront the enemy, but dominate them, those who seem different from us.  That leads to a culture of soft fascism.  It also leads to ideas at the fringe (like replacement theory), like what we saw at Charlottesville and then even January 6.  These ideas included “nativism” which excludes those who weren’t part of the chosen tribes that formed America (??). I note that on p. 2 of my second DADT book (2002), in a Foreword called "The Winding Road Toward Liberty", I wrote, regarding 9/11, "We have a feral, viral enemy that seems diabolical enough to use the opportunities id our own technological society -- particularly those related to mobility, communication and self-expression -- to destroy our modern world by clandestine and asymmetric attacks from within."

The video above is from a Cato Institute book forum with the author on August 13.

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