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Whose Rights? Counterterrorism and the Dark Side of American Public Opinion, Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza

Reviewed by Shana Kushner Gadarian



How do American citizens deal with an often frightening world where terrorism may come ashore again at any moment? Does the threat of terrorism bind Americans together more tightly or does threat expose underlying weaknesses in the American community? In a tour of post-September 11 American public opinion, Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza depict an American public willing to forego the rights and liberties of citizens, particularly groups traditionally considered outsiders. This dark side of public opinion is deeply rooted in American history, as the authors show in a chapter outlining key moments of both expansion and retrenchment of rights. What Brooks and Manza demonstrate through a series of survey experiments is that this retrenchment of rights may be enduring when the targets of surveillance and detention are seen as non-citizens, Middle-Easterners, or Muslims. Survey respondents feel more coolly toward these groups than other groups like U.S. citizens, whites, blacks, and Christians. Respondents are also more supportive of policies like using military commissions rather than civilian courts to try accused terrorists when told that the accused are foreign nationals compared to citizens. Democracies demand equal protection under the law, but this book shows that when politics is threatening, Americans willingly sac

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