Publication Details

Pether, P. J. (2012). Perverts terrorists and business as usual. fantasies and genealogies of U.S. law. Cardozo Law Review, 33 (6), 2547-2562.

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Cardozo Law Review


The indefinite detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is exceptional in diverse ways. It is not only the postmodern exemplar of the jurisdiction of exception into which, Raphael Gross has argued, Carl Schmitt’s political theory conjured a paradigm of nation and other rooted in anti-Semitism and other supremacist doctrines of hatred, which moved from theory to praxis in the death camps of the Shoah; it also embodies what I have called the New American Exceptionalism of the post-9/11 era. In that iteration, the U.S. makes imperialist war in the pattern of the Crusades, accompanied in the contemporary domestic political realm by a discourse of pseudo-Christianity that is authoritarian, militant, and violently intolerant, an uncanny refraction of Schmitt’s figuring of the Jew as the interpellator of a secularism that he claimed robbed Christianity of its authority within the Reich. And our lust for the spectacle of dead enemies evidences, pace Foucault, a recrudescence of the medieval desire for the spectacle of state power inscribed on the bodies of the enemies of the State.