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Geo. J. L. & Mod. Crit. Race Persp.


Like a thief in the night,1 politicians have stolen religion for their deceptive vices, using the term “radicalization” or “terrorism” to meet their needs.2 See Sahar F. Aziz, Caught in a Preventive Dragnet: Selective Counterterrorism in a Post-9/11 America, 47 GONZ. L. REV. 429, 481 (2012) (discussing how a police report equates “Muslim religiosity with radicalization toward terrorism”); David A. Bosworth, American Crusade: The Religious Roots of the War on Terror, 7 BARRY L. REV. 65, 65 (2006) (noting that American news and popular culture often portray religious people as “narrow-minded bigots out to destroy everything good and decent”); Ned Ryun, After NYC Terror Attack, Let’s Use Common Sense to Protect Ourselves from Radical Islamic Terrorists, FOX NEWS (Nov. 3, 2017), [https://perma. cc/Q7XK-5LZH] (describing Muslim people as radical and terrorists to advance a conservative agenda). They have snatched the power of the church, synagogue, and mosque by framing religion as an attack on American ideals.3 See Amara S. Chaudhry-Kravitz, The New Facially Neutral “Anti-Shariah” Bills: A Constitutional Analysis, 20 WASH. & LEE J. CIV. RTS. & SOC. JUST. 25, 33 (2013) (describing the American Public Policy Alliance’s efforts to portray Islamic Shariah Law); Richard M. Esenberg, You Cannot Lose if You Choose Not to Play: Toward a More Modest Establishment Clause, 12 ROGER WILLIAMS L. REV. 1, 2 (2006) (noting modern liberals tend to see religion as something to be placed on the “sidelines of public life”) (citation omitted); document/collection/analytical-materials/id/4N6N-DY80-00CV-X053-00000-00?cite=12%20Roger%20Williams %20U.%20L.%20Rev.%201&context=1000516; Ryun, supra note 2 (claiming “accurate language” requires stating the United States has “suffered violent assaults in the name of Islam”). Words matter. The social constructs associated with “radicalization” and “terrorism” matter even more because the terms have been used to justify discriminatory policies and surveillance practices using the pretext of national security.4 See Cyra Akila Choudhury, Shari’ah Law as National Security Threat?, 46 AKRON L. REV. 49, 92 (2013); Hilal Elver, Racializing Islam Before and After 9/11: From Melting Pot to Islamophobia, 21 TRANSNAT’L L. & CONTEMP. PROBS. 119, 144 (2012); Hugh Handeyside, Leaked DHS Report Uses Junk Science to Argue for Surveillance of Muslims, ACLU (Feb. 7, 2018, 3:15 PM), national-security/discriminatory-profiling/leaked-dhs-report-uses-junk-science-argue [ Y2BA-X4HT]. Masking government discrimination with security concerns is nothing new. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) responded to the Black Panthers with the Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO),5 an initiative designed to infiltrate Black organizations and subvert leadership.6 By framing Black leaders as threats to national security, the FBI gained support to arrest, prosecute, and, in some instances, kill Black Panther, Nation of Islam, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members.

Through a framing theory lens, this Article explores the legal ramifications of fabricated frames. I argue that framing Muslims as a national security threat and then asking the “good” Muslims to fight the War on Terrorism relegates religion to hidden spaces and places White nationalism in the forefront. Stigmatizing Muslims as terrorists also emboldens xenophobia, racism, and hate crimes.24 Equally significant, by justifying statutes and policies as tools in the War on Terrorism, the executive and legislative branches garner widespread public support and judicial protections for policies that continue to adversely and disproportionately affect Muslims.25 I pursue this theory in six parts. Part II examines the various ways Islam is framed within the national security dialogue. This analysis includes analogizing the terrorism frame to how African Americans are portrayed in social narratives about crime and public safety. Part III provides background on social science’s framing theory and the way framing influences behavior, including how fabricated frames are used to justify self-interests. In Part IV, I assess the effects of weaponized language. Specifically, Part IV analyzes the nexus between animus frames and the enactment of the Muslim Ban,26 the USA PATRIOT Act,27 and the NSEERS.28 This section also considers the correlation between animus frames and hate crimes against African Americans, Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim. Part V offers strategies to reclaim religion and counter the anti-Islam terrorist narrative.