Following the spectacular crimes perpetrated by Osama bin Laden’s henchmen, the Bush administration appeared to rouse and maintain concerns of terror in the minds of the populace, without limit and for as long as possible. Indeed, the contexts for the attacks of January 2015 in Paris and of 2001 in New York are not easy to compare, primarily from a socio-historical point of view.
As many specialists of the Arab world emphasize, ISIS and its strategies—though they have as their origin the same radical “Islamist other”—are profoundly different from al-Qaeda.
However, the American public was generally comfortable with it.
According to a 2004 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken about two years after the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act, about one-quarter of Americans (26%) believed the Act went too far in restricting people's civil liberties in order to fight terrorism.
This partly explains why, despite the revelations of secretive activity under the USA PATRIOT Act by the National Security Agency (NSA) , measures favoring public debate about the respect of privacy and of personal data remain extremely weak.
Any anticipated reckoning by the public is far from certain, and if realized, may be short-lived.
A poll in April 2015 run by CSA for the French news website Atlantico indicates that while 63% were favorable (of which 23% were “very favorable”), a full 72% had either never heard of the Act or didn’t understand it.
The vast majority of French citizens appeared more or less ignorant of the security measures proposed, as well as to the possible threat of having a police state .
Under such circumstances, the mainstay of normality is often invoked, particularly by the youngest members of society.
And when normality rules the day, an exceedingly naïve question arises: If you have nothing to hide, why should you fear surveillance?