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An American werewolf in Kabul: John Walker Lindh, the construction of race, and the return to whiteness

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On 1 December 2001, North America was officially introduced to John Walker Lindh The American Taliban. Lindh was captured in Afghanistan fighting against the Northern Alliance. The event created a groundswell of news reports concerning the political development of Lindh. In this paper, I interrogate the ways in which race is reproduced through a popular online magazine and its account of the John Walker Lindh case. There is a series of narratives used to describe Lindh that relies upon a moral panic of sorts to accomplish two critical tasks. First, it polices the boundaries of whiteness by alternately whitening Lindh and othering Islam. Second, these depictions mobilize support for a metanarrative of national discipline exemplified by the Patriot Act. Both discourses represent a cautionary tale against border crossing and racial transcendence in a so-called post-9/11 era.

Keywords: American Taliban; moral panic; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of British Columbia.

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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