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The Rhetoric of TerrorReflections on 9/11 and the War on Terror$
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Marc Redfield

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231232

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823231232.001.0001

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. Terror

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3. Terror
The Rhetoric of Terror

Marc Redfield

Fordham University Press

Geoffrey Nunberg observes that “terror is still more amorphous and elastic” than terrorism, evoking “both the actions of terrorists and the fear they are trying to engender.” The sheer fact that this word means “fear” means that the “war on terror” slogan can claim rich and multiple genealogies and echoes. Freud calls panic (Panik) the “collective fear” (Massenangst) that accompanies the disintegration of a group when its leader, its common ego ideal, is shattered. Panic not only demonstrates the contagiousness of emotion in a group setting but also what one might call emotion's impersonality. The “war on terror” names a frantic desire to curtail the exposure to futurity that makes us the mortal beings we are.

Keywords:   terror, collective fear, Freud, panic, ego ideal, war on terror, mortal beings

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