The Monster Minority: John Yoo’s Multicultural Instruction and the “Torture Memos”


In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States declared a war on terrorism that would come to rely on legal memoranda to justify the surveillance, detention, and torture of “terrorists” held at the Guantánamo Bay Military Prison. Analyzing the language of these 2002 “Torture Memos,” this article contends that the memos discursively produced not only the racial formation of the terrorist but also the emergent figure of the “monster minority,” embodied by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General, John Yoo. Defined in this essay as a patriotic, individualistic, and exceptional racialized subject who works on behalf of counterterrorism, the monster minority plays a central role in the legal construction of the terrorist precisely because of his exemplary status within US society. While Asian American studies explains the formation of the model minority that accounts for Yoo as a beneficiary of elite multicultural education, and post-9/11 studies of U.S. imperialism elucidate the formation of the terrorist-as-monster, this essay puts these fields in conversation to establish how Yoo’s particular brand of Asian American masculinity consolidates both the racialized enemy and the racialized agent of the US security state.


Model minority; Asian American Studies; John Yoo; war on terrorism; torture memos

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Published : 2022-06-15

RaymundoE. (2022). The Monster Minority: John Yoo’s Multicultural Instruction and the “Torture Memos”. Review of International American Studies, 15(1), 31-49.

Emily Raymundo
Independent Scholar, Andover, MA, USA  United States

Emily Raymundo is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Public Books, and the anthologies Fashion and Beauty in the Time of Asia (NYU Press, 2019) and Q&A: Voices from Queer Asian North America (Temple UP, 2021).

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