Whilst digging through a pile of old files buried on an old hard drive, I ran across an old essay of mine, one from just short of a dozen years ago. It was my “response”– not published or posted anywhere — to the world created by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9-11; a world of war, based on irrational fear.
Look around today, particularly in the shadows of the fear-mongering that’s driving this election season. Think of Trump’s hate-filled and fear-mongering proposals concerning “illegals,” “Muslims,””ISIS” and all else that’s covered under the phobia umbrella including, for a great many, their not-yet-spent irrational fear and hate of soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama. He’s black, after all, and this here’s a white country! Scary scary.
I’d propose ways to stop the phobia train — if I could think of some. Clearly that’s not going to happen, though, so — stated another way — here we go again, back into the pit. How many times must we do this? Every time a Republican gets up onto the national stage, looks like to me. Anyway, I’ll leave comments to others, and simply add here the essay I wrote in November 2004; it’s title was a simple one: FEAR.
November 7, 2004
“I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.” –Vice President Dan Quayle, 5/22/89
It occurs to me that since events on 9-11 re-awakened the lion and apparently offered him an excuse to eat, at his pleasure, everything in the jungle without the need to think about it first, this nation — E pluribus unum in that jungle — has been in fear of everything in the jungle save for the lion. That is, I think, a potentially dangerous mistake.
Closer to home, the events of 9-11 served to awaken a sleeping president from his executive lethargy AND to awaken the American people to the fact that America is no longer insular and apart from the real world but is, rather, an intimate part of it. Those two realities soon joined hands, mated, and a few months later gave birth to a beast; soon after the birth of the beast, the beast flexed his muscles and nothing has since been the same. There are no official counts, but reasonable estimates suggest that between 100- and 150-thousand people have died, each and all in atonement for the 3000 which perished on 9-11. The ratio falls somewhere between 30 an 50 to one, and it’s only just begun. Some will call that justice; others might prefer ‘insanity’ as a more accurate descriptor.
Many in this nation claim to be in constant fear of the Anext@ terrorist attack while others feel more fear, by orders of magnitude, the disease within than they fear the prospect of a bad guy with a gun, out there somewhere, who may or may not have the idea of taking a random shot in the dark at someone – anyone – at some future date. The gunshot, if fired, may or may not impact any given individual (or individuals) directly, but the disease within will impact eventually come to impact each and every one, without a doubt.
This is why I have little or no fear of what’s become a buzzword these days, i.e. “International Fundamentalist Islamic Terrorists.” True, they’ve managed to destroy two buildings and damage a third, destroy four commercial airliners and kill 3000 innocent people in the process, and that’s a worthy issue for concern and one which demands action. And, in fairness to the Bush administration, action against the perpetrators WAS taken, and it was at least in part effective in the sense that it took away their principal training ground and forced them to scatter toward the four winds. But that was where intelligent action stopped, and from all indications it was stopped early to enable action in league with a long pre-existing passion, the overthrow of a sovereign government which, while run by a generally evil ego-maniac, presented no threat to the US which could not be dealt with through far less damaging and drastic means, and orders of magnitude less costly in terms of treasure, property, and people.
But there came into play an even darker aspect: the manipulation of fear, the imposition of fear. How different from the day that Franklin Roosevelt said to his nation immediately following a deadly attack: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Not so today. The events of 9-11 were every bit as worthy of an equivalent to Roosevelt’s appraisal following the events of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but 9-11’s meaning was soon twisted and convoluted by ill-intentioned people of agenda, twisted to reflect not national self-confidence or even national self-interest, but instead to promote a hatred and fear of not only the perpetrators — a small group of Islamic fundamentalists — but also of nations, a religion and culture which embraces more than a billion people worldwide, and …. and a fear and hatred of everyone in THIS country who found reason to disagree with the paths its executive, George W. Bush, was choosing. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” he said. And almost instantly there appeared a line in the sand which separated his political agenda from thoughtful course, “patriot” from “traitor” — and, one more time, Christian from Heathen.
Next came the invasion of Iraq, a sovereign nation which was of no threat to the US. It was a preemption based on lies — lies which were spoken to cause fear amongst the gullible masses, fears that the Muslim hordes were preparing to attack America with heinous “Weapons of Mass Destruction” — their only goal to destroy America’s freedom and liberty. The invasion of Iraq was touted as part and parcel to the War on Terrorism, the “war” which Bush declared on or about 9-12-01; the reality was that the events of 9-11 simply served as an excuse to resurrect the old agenda which dated back to 1992, the idea of deposing Saddam Hussein in order that America might indulge herself in nation-building, to reconstruct from the ashes a Phoenix loyal enough to America to allow US military bases on its soil in order to protect and safeguard forever the availability of Middle Eastern oil to fuel America’s industrial and economic engine. “Democracy” in Iraq for Iraqis? A buzzword, meaningless in the classic sense; an inverted buzzword to describe the new American Empire, uttered in the same vein as other more familiar administration inversions such as “Healthy Forests” and “Clear Skies” and “No Child Left Behind.” In each case simply imagine the exact opposite and you’re home free.
America had been leaning toward empire since the end of the Second World War. She’s made bitter forays into Korea and Vietnam in the process, and has installed and supported fascist terrorist dictatorships wherever possible in the Western Hemisphere — “Anti-Communist” puppet states which never cared for anything other than perpetuation of the personal power of the dictator, a dictator who granted, in return, the right of American corporate business to proceed without regulation in the pursuit of their own goals. These puppet states were, in that sense and in effect, little more than a reduced-in-size mirror-image of whichever regime was current in Washington DC.
During the 1930’s and coincident with National Socialism’s ascent to full power of the state in Germany, Hermann Goering noted that “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism & exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
On November 3, 2004, the day after Bush’s election to a second term as president of the US, American author Dean Bakopoulus wrote: “What happened yesterday was this: The Republicans finally achieved their long-held goal to use fear (of Muslims, of homosexuals, of minorities, of terrorism) and fundamentalism to get poor people to vote for the causes of the wealthy. It worked. Mission accomplished. The arrogant invented a crisis and the ignorant rallied to be saved from it; it’s the oldest form of power play in the world.”
History repeats yet one more time, the always-hungry lion still roams; its latest incarnation, the November 2, 2004 electoral spread (popular vote), approximately 51-49 % in favor of the lion, in favor of fear, and in favor of numerous peripheral issues which, to an open mind, would have absolutely no bearing on the vote spread in an election and to the unfortunate exclusion of myriad issues which should, indeed, be considered, but were not. Fear. Fear which yields first suspicion, then eventually hatred. In 1941, post Pearl Harbor fears were exploited by racists and bigots to the point where American citizens of Japanese ancestry were plucked from their homes and livelihoods to be “resettled” in “relocation camps” such as in Manzanar California and Sacaton Arizona, to name but two. Their crime? Their ancestry. In 2001, post 9-11, fears were exacerbated and hatred fomented by certain well-known Christian Evangelicals who shifted blame for the attacks away from the few to the many, to the worldwide Muslim community as a whole. There were hate crimes in America then, crimes based on hatred, of course, and on fear. A man was murdered in Phoenix, Arizona simply because he wore a turban and was, therefore and in ignorant association, “a goddamned A-rab.” He was a Sikh, a gentle person who was seeking to live the promise of America, a land where each and all (or no) religious beliefs are equally acceptable, thanks to Article I of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights which simply states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
That’s where the essay ended. I suppose I could have written more, but decided not to bother since all that’s left to say is that which many have said over and over again. And only a few ever seem to listen, and nothing ever changes. I guess FEAR must be magical or something. A gift from the gods maybe. Or genetic? Some don’t have it, millions do? Is there a solution?
Beats me, but irrational fear does indeed seem to have always been a major driver of the entire of the human community.