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Culture of the National Security State, an Interview With Deepa Kumar

This is the last in a series of interviews Deepa Kumar gave the Real News Network, here she tells host Paul Jay “that a culture of fear and obedience has developed so we give consent to Cold War policies, to hot wars, to the complete militarization of society.”


Culture of the National Security State – Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself

On Deepa Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, from The Real News Network:

Her work is driven by an active engagement with the key issues that characterize our era–neoliberalism and imperialism. Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois Press, 2007), is about the power of collective struggle in effectively challenging the priorities of neoliberalism.

If neoliberal globalization characterizes the economic logic of our age, the “war on terror” has come to define its political logic. Kumar began her research into the politics of empire shortly after the tumultuous events of 9/11.

Her second book titled Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Haymarket Books, 2012), looks at how the “Muslim enemy” has historically been mobilized to suit the goals of empire.

The interview opens:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself. I’m Paul Jay. This is The Real News Network. And we’re continuing our discussion with Deepa Kumar, who joins us now in studio.

Deepa is an associate professor of media studies at Rutgers University, also serves as an officer in the union there. She’s written many books. One of the most recent is Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, but coming soon is Constructing the Terrorist Threat: The Cultural Politics of the National Security State.

Thanks for joining us.

DEEPA KUMAR, ASSOC. PROF. MEDIA STUDIES AND MIDEAST STUDIES, RUTGERS UNIV.: Thank you for having me.

JAY: So what is that, the cultural politics of the national security state?

KUMAR: Well, you mentioned a show that you grew up with–being a communist for the FBI. And essentially what I’m looking at is the birth of the national–.

JAY: Just quick, that was in the last segment, so if you didn’t watch the last segment, you should.

KUMAR: Yes. So if you look at–I’m looking at the Cold War period, the post-Second World War period, and the emergence and the birth of the national security state after the National Security Act of 1947, which creates the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then the NSA in ’52, and so on. And there is a wholesale militarization of American society. Every aspect of American life, social, intellectual, political, and so on, it gets militarized in this way.

And the question is: how does that become acceptable? And culture is very important in terms of understanding how that happens. And so you have these security rituals, right, the Civil [Defense] department drills, the kind of “duck and cover”. Bert the Turtle teaches a whole generation–.

JAY: I did that as a kid.

KUMAR: Did you? Okay.

JAY: Oh yeah. I had to go hide under my desk. Yeah.

KUMAR: Right. And, of course, you think about what is the point of a ritual like that. If a nuclear bomb goes off near your school, a desk isn’t going to protect you.

JAY: No? They told me it would.

The rest of the transcript is at the link.

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Culture of the National Security State, an Interview with Deepa Kumar

This is the last in a series of interviews Deepa Kumar gave the Real News Network, here she tells host Paul Jay “that a culture of fear and obedience has developed so we give consent to Cold War policies, to hot wars, to the complete militarization of society.”


Culture of the National Security State – Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself

On Deepa Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, from The Real News Network:

Her work is driven by an active engagement with the key issues that characterize our era–neoliberalism and imperialism. Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois Press, 2007), is about the power of collective struggle in effectively challenging the priorities of neoliberalism.

If neoliberal globalization characterizes the economic logic of our age, the “war on terror” has come to define its political logic. Kumar began her research into the politics of empire shortly after the tumultuous events of 9/11.

Her second book titled Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Haymarket Books, 2012), looks at how the “Muslim enemy” has historically been mobilized to suit the goals of empire.

The interview opens: (more…)

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