As a word and concept, "terrorism" has acquired an extraordinary status in American public discourse. It has displaced Communism as public enemy number one, although there are frequent efforts to tie the two together. It has spawned uses of language, rhetoric and argument that are frightening in their capacity for mobilizing opinion, gaining legitimacy and provoking various sorts of murderous action. And it has imported and canonized an ideology with origins in a distant conflict, which serves the purpose here of institutionalizing the denial and avoidance of history. In short, the elevation of terrorism to the status of a national security threat (though more Americans drown in their bathtubs, are struck by lightning or die in traffic accidents) has deflected careful scrutiny of the government's domestic...
The Essential Terrorist