This essay explores the militarization of everyday life in the United States today, following decades of unresolved cycles of wars fought at home (e.g., the war on drugs) and abroad. A “continuum of violence” is established, through which the tactics of war and war crimes gradually seep into domestic civilian life as the new norms. The gross abuses of presumed enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay come back to haunt us, as war crimes abroad impact behavior at home. The expansion and deformation of US prison culture—isolation, solitary confinement, and other dehumanizing practices—illustrate the militarization of US society. The mimetic recycling of war- and peacetime crimes is complete when the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantánamo Bay finds its parallel in the force-feeding of hunger strikers at Pelican Bay prison in California. The normalization of the abnormal and the militarization of everyday life appear in the proliferation of armed and dangerous gated communities, the presence of the invisible de rigueur house gun or house arsenal, invisible surveillance, and civilian passive acquiescence to stop-and-frisk encounters as well as in the mass incarceration (without mass protest) of “dangerous populations,” almost any young black man, Latino gang members, and small-fry neighborhood drug dealers. The normalization of long-term solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHUs) in US prisons crosses over into the realm of torture and crimes against humanity.
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Nancy Scheper-Hughes; The Militarization and Madness of Everyday Life. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2014; 113 (3): 640–655. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2692227
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