Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Reclaim our Humanity

Robert Jensen

Journalism professor Robert Jensen is one of those few writers who suddenly found his feet put to the fire in the surreal aftermath of 9/11 for simply attempting to answer the question, “Why do they hate us?” He had the unwitting audacity to observe that the United States had also terrorized innocent civilians in Southeast Asia, Central America, Iraq and elsewhere. Many Americans, however, utterly reject the idea that the U.S. has terrorized anyone, ever. This small and thoughtful book is an attempt to explain the disconnect between our self-image as well-meaning, freedom-loving people and what we, through our government’s actions, actually do in our name. Jensen cites the failure of both the media and the universities for failing to foster an honest discussion of U.S. actions and intentions in the world. He cites two other deeply ingrained notions that prevent intelligent discussion: the automatic assumption that U.S. troops are always deployed to defend the “freedom of Americans” and a reflexive patriotism that arbitrarily devalues the lives of non-U.S. citizens.