A Case Study in American Political Hysteria

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ACase Study in American Political Hysteria

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ACase Study in American Political Hysteria

Burt(2015) describes hysteria as a mass political phenomenon that isdeveloped by different movements ad characterized by conditions suchas political extremism. The topic of political hysteria in America isformulated in the entire book through the discussion of variouspolitical events. In the sixth chapter of the book, the writerfocuses on the nation’s political stand and different developmentsconcerning the issue of the Islamic Sharia law. Burt (2015) believesthat the issue of political hysteria is characterized mainly by thepresence of spies in important government offices, global conspiracy,betrayals, and murders.


Burt’sargument in different chapters of the book develops the theme ofdiversity in political views including extreme actions and debates onvarious issues of concern in the government and the nation at large.In the sixth chapter, the writer presents on the great debatesconcerning the presence and practice of Islam in America. Somepoliticians share radical opinions on the existence of Islamicculture in the nation. A number even believe that the adoption ofsome of the cultural practices such as the use of Sharia law in theAmerican courts will infringe the national security. Threats ofterror are believed to take two dimensions, an external threat suchas the one caused by the 9/11 and an internal threat where the Sharialaw may attempt to subvert the American culture.

Thereis also fear that Muslim extremists intend to detriment the westerncivilization. In this context, the writer presents that the politicalhysteria is developed by the fact that there are violent andnonviolent means, which might contribute to the harm of westerncivilization. Although America is always regarded as a liberalnation, Burt presents that most politicians and states people arevery unwilling to pave the way for the inclusion of Islamic laws indifferent states of the nation. He even gives an example of the stateof hysteria, based on the meaning that he develops in the previouschapters, by showing how the state of Oklahoma rejected the bid toinclude the laws of the state. Furthermore, such a move evenindicates that regardless of the 9/11 event and other threats posedby extremist Islamic groups, there are still some minor groups ofindividuals who are pushing for the implementation of laws that areconsidered as a risk to the nation’s principles and values.

Therewere also fears that electing Obama, as the president of the UnitedStates, would make the country more vulnerable to the intrusion ofthe Islamic culture, including their legal code. This fear wasgenerated for the first time during the presidential debate whereHerman Cain questioned the role of Muslims in the Americangovernment. He also expressed that he was afraid to be led by Muslim.Such a development is a perfect example of political hysteriaportrayed in the entire sixth chapter of Burt’s book. The stand bythe renowned businessperson led to a wave of varied reasoning onwhether to elect Obama or not.

Thefear that was once evident in the US courts and political sceneslater turned out to be a national political hysteria. The pressplayed a critical role in ensuring that the information concerningthe threats that the nation was facing, with the inclusion of anindividual perceived to be a Muslim in the top government positionwas widely spread. The state even led to the development of theAnti-Sharia movement. Burt (2015) suggests that even though the ideasof the movement have not gathered much popularity, its existence isexpected to last for a longer period.

The9/11 event and its association with the Islamic extremists were alsoused to promote the notion of an ill state that the nation will be inif Islamic legal codes were embraced in the United States. The writershows how such led to the widespread of the issue to a state ofnational political hysteria by giving the assumptions and opinions ofdifferent individuals concerning the issue. Some schools that werebeing developed such as the Khalil Khan International Academy werebanned due to suspicion and the fact that they offered academicprograms in English and Arabic (Burt, 2015). The fears were alsoturned into a nationwide political hysteria by influencing thecitizens to have suspicion on very basic things concerning theIslamic religion. Individuals, including Islamic students, werescrutinized for their intentions, and such even led to banning ofsome from pursuing their studies in the nation. The school formedwith the intention of teaching in Arabic was greatly rejected withthe fear that it would turn out to be a recruitment tool for creatingfollowers of Islam as shown by Burt (2015).


Burtuses the sixth chapter of his book to portray the political hysteriabased on the issue of hysteria. From the presentations and thedevelopment of different claims through the chapters, the bookfunctions well as an interdisciplinary study. The book focuses onpolitical, social, and historical events in the United States over adiverse timeline.


Burt,A. (2015). AmericanHysteria The History of Mainstream Political Extremism in the UnitedStates.Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press.