Terrorism and biopower

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Post by Gabe Condon

Recently, a suspect of the Times Square bombing attempt was apprehended while trying to leave the country from John F. Kennedy airport.  I thought that his arrest and confession tied very well into Foucault’s philosophy on power, particularly biopower.

After Faisal Shahzad’s arrest, there was not only investigation on the crime itself, but also on what made him attempt to commit this crime.  People want to know: “what was wrong with this guy’s mind that made him do this?”  The investigation continues as a sort of psychoanalysis of Shahzad going all the way back to his childhood.  Strangely enough, he was born in Conneticut.  The article I found, entitled “Confessed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad’s hatred stemmed from personal failure, war on terror”, expounds how his anger slowly build up and came to the point where he could not take any more.  It describes how he went from being a “normal”, middle class man to a terrorist.  There seems to be a discrepancy between his life before and after he was radicalized.  How could he change this drastically so quickly?  The answer in the article points to the fact that he may have been dissatisfied with his own success in America. He,  therefore, decided to side with his home country, Pakistan.  I believe that this answer might also be a function of the way that our minds have been shaped by the society we are in.  While I am not claiming that it is right to bomb Times Square,  I believe that Shahzad may have recognized some very real evils that the United States is committing against people in Iraq and Afganistan, and he was rightly outraged.  I would guess that there will be some attempt to reform his mind into the “American concept” while he is in prison, as Foucault suggests.

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One Response to “Terrorism and biopower”

  1. jshin21 Says:

    I would like to add some more to this post. As Foucault asserts, society tries to scientifically prove everything that are going on around the world. I think things were different before. When one committed crime, polices punished them by providing physical suffering or by giving death penalty. But these days, when one gets caught for committing a crime, all the people with power gets involved from police man to scientists, psychiatrist, and psychologist. We like to listen to criminal’s confession, assume the reasons that caused his action and then, scientifically prove the problem and support the reason behind the action. It is good idea to find out the reasons behind the action that becomes the crime and try to prevent it. Yet, I am worried that innocent people can get hurt. If one displays the similar characteristics or grew up in the familiar environment as the criminal, society can view him with the wrong idea and possibly treat him wrongly. I think it is great that we try to prevent the crime by reasoning everything behind the action, but it is also important for society to not to set a set “fact” about anyone.

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