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Tag: terrorism

Fearing the Fear Itself

We here in the US are heading into yet another “election year” in 2016. And it would be nice if everyone kept these thoughts from the brilliant Charlie Pierce in mind as we withstand the flood of fear mongering from the candidates who want to lead us.

If you want to see what losing the war on terror really looks like, don’t look to the Middle East. Instead, watch the television commercials approved by the various Republican presidential candidates. The three Democratic candidates are better, but not by much.

The fact is that you can’t win a “war” on terror any more than you can win a “war” on hate or a “war” on any other easily activated human emotion, if there are enough powerful institutions that can profit from its activation. It’s really up to the rest of us, as active citizens in a self-governing republic, to keep things in perspective about the genuine dangers and the fantastical ones by which other people profit. There are genuine threats to our safety–bridges near collapse, gas leaks that may ruin a whole town, the unfettered access to firearms and the readiness to use them. That should be inspiration enough for We, The People to fulfill our pledge to each other to provide for the common defense and to promote the general welfare. John Quincy Adams was only half-right; if America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy, then it ought not to create them here at home, either.

I wish we had more of those “active citizens”, instead of media-created “average” Americans. People who passively accept the ominously-voiced crap dispensed in 30-second bursts of political advertising as fact. Along with the ratings-bait fair and balanced “debates” that substitute for civic dialog in this country.

Living in Fear

Considering the events of fourteen years ago, mid September should be a good time to hold a rational, fact-based discussion about security here in the “homeland”. But considering the huge (or maybe yuuuge) crowd of politicians working hard to literally scare up votes in the backwoods of Iowa and New Hampshire, that ain’t gonna happen.

Which is why a recent segment of the DecodeDC podcast titled Terrified of Terrorism should be required listening. From the opening of that episode:

Fourteen years after 9/11, America’s terrorism policy resembles a history museum crammed with dusty old assumptions, antiquated objectives, unexamined ledgers all shrouded in a cloak of secrecy and imminent, invisible danger that vanquishes skeptical inquisition.

As taxpayers, we are being scammed. As citizens, our constitutional values are being compromised. As human beings, we are being needlessly frightened.

One might say this shows the terrorists have won. They haven’t. It’s that our common sense has surrendered.

We’re not much bothered, though. We are too paranoid to seriously question the basics of counterterrorism policy. The fundamental assumptions of the War on Terror have gone unexamined for a decade and a half.

The core premise is this: Global terrorism is the most serious, dangerous threat to the United States and its citizens.

It is heresy to challenge that orthodoxy.

But by any objective measure, it isn’t true.

The rest of the 22 minutes is a good start to that rational, fact-based discussion our so-called leaders are terrified to have. Go. Listen. Think.

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