Invitation to Terror: The Expanding Empire of the Unknown by Frank Furedi
Virtually everyone agrees that terrorism is defined by its impact on the public it targets. Yet there seems to be very little open discussion about how society has responded to it and how people are affected by it. This is no small gap in our understanding of 21st century terrorism. "Invitation to Terror" argues that what we really need to worry about is not what terrorists do but our reaction to it. It argues that Western society lacks the cultural and intellectual resources to deal with this threat. Politicians who frequently claim that 'our way of life' faces an existential threat find it difficult to explain just what that way of life is and why it is worth defending - inadvertently invites acts of terrorism. This book details how, as society has become increasingly apprehensive about the future, it has reached the point where it regards itself as a vulnerable target. This defensive response is influenced by many causes the most important of which is the difficulty society has in endowing conflict and the threat it faces with meaning. The words used to describe the threat of terrorism - unimaginable, incomprehensible, beyond meaning - serve to deflect our understanding of the issues at stake. Furedi argues that the problem is not 'them' and does not come from 'there'. It is us and comes from within. The good news is that it is not very difficult to diminish the impact of this threat through changing the way we engage with it.