Richard Rubenstein introduced some important themes and discussion into the program, particularly in our discussions of structural violence. The idea that there is a system generating violence, which produces inequality, which manifests in structural violence. The example of prisons was used, where prisons serve as a machine for the production of violence. Relating this back to Richard Matthew’s talk, whee he highlighted the fact that 1/3 of the world’s incarcerated population are in the US. I’m sure we’ll be learning much more about this next week with a visits to prison facilities and law enforcement professionals. Obviously there are different groups, contexts and environments where structural violence and conflict can occur. I found Rubenstein’s analysis of the 2016 US election to be insightful and quite frankly, it made total sense. He discussed how Democrats did not effectively capture the mood of the country – citing that they ran on a platform of a $15/hr minimum wage, transgender bathrooms and putting the first women in the White House. Obviously, the issue was more complex and nuanced, but his acknowledgment that Republicans had been asking the right questions by challenging the existing system was definitely something that I could understand. Furthermore, his acknowledgment that they may have been asking the right questions — it was just that the answers they came up with were vicious.

While I found his ideas about terrorism hard to follow, I did enjoy the discussions afterwards between all of the participants. This past semester I took a Critical Security Studies class which spent a lot of time examining terrorism and how the state manifests itself. This class was a total eye-opener, and made me question a lot about the world around me, particularly when it comes to terrorism. Without discounting or diminishing the catastrophic events of 9/11, I do not believe that terrorism poses an existential threat to the existence of the US. If we look at the average number of people killed on US soil by ‘terrorists’ is relatively low – official statistics put the number at around 75 people per year. While I am not diminishing or cheapening those lives, this class and the divergence of opinions relating to Professor Rubenstein’s talk has made me wonder what the cause of the media and political obsession with terrorism is. If the main concern behind all the hype is the unnecessary and indiscriminate murdering of people, then surely gun violence in the US should be receiving all this attention? Over 30,000 people are killed each year as a consequence of gun violence. If the state is so concerned with saving lives, then tightening gun control laws, addressing other causes of violence and gun loopholes should naturally be their priority. Sadly, as we all know this is not the case. Instead, often misguided and misinformed policies are put in place to “combat terrorism.”