, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 327-350

Enemies Everywhere: Terrorism, Moral Panic, and US Civil Society

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Abstract

Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, terrorism has experienced a prominence in discourse across the U.S. The representations of terrorists and terrorism by the news media and politi have contributed to the edifice of terrorism as a “moral panic”. This treatise examines the social effects that have or may occur due to the social construction of a moral panic of terrorism. The thematic frame is situated within Cohen’s stages of a moral panic. We offer an analysis of the media’s depiction and coverage of acts of terrorism, and legislative, political and legal responses in the form of social and cultural changes occurring from the creation of a moral panic. In addition, we offer an analysis of the state’s vested interest in the social construction of this panic, leading to increased levels of fear, targeted at the general public’s consciousness. This article concludes that the presentation of terrorism and terrorists by the media and politi have contributed to unnecessary levels of panic and fear, misguided public consciousness, and the development of legislation creating negative social ramifications yet be seen.