Scholarly Articles and Other Contributions
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Abstract

After the air attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States government decided to fortify all public government buildings and spaces of importance in Washington, D.C. that might be targets of future attacks. The expenditures for these projects ran to millions of dollars and included the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. These extensive fortifications were inspired by widespread fear at all levels of the American government that extreme measures were needed to protect themselves and government buildings. This culture of fear quickly became an accepted part of American political discourse. Fear was no longer cowardly; it became a badge of courage. Streets around government buildings were closed. Streets that remained open were provided with retractable barriers. A security cordon around the White House was greatly expanded. The public was denied entrance to the grand staircase on the West side of the Capitol buildings. Armed police were placed on every corner of Capitol Hill twenty-four hours a day. To secure perimeters metal bollards were placed around buildings and public spaces at a cost of $10,000 each. They could not protect against air attacks or suicide bombers--only truck and car bombs-but that fact did not deter the frenzy of construction that still continues. Thousands of bollards were put in place. The directors of every government agency stumbled over one another to arrange that their spaces be surrounded by these symbols of fear. The question that every director in Washington must have asked themselves again and again was "How could their buildings be bereft of these symbols that made a public statement of their importance?" Even the coal burning steam plant on Capitol Hill-the worst source of pollution in Washington-was fortified.' The bollards around the Supreme Court were the only ones decorated with a Latin word: Lex. Why did the judges choose lex and not ius for those protective fences?

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