“Trapped in a maelstrom of waste, worry, and witch hunt…”
I just wanted to expand a bit on item number five on my list of the ten most important stories of 2006, the rise of the “Islamofascist” bogyman. In a wider sense I should have said this was the year that the “war on terror” took on a life of its own. It’s been growing ever since 911, but it’s reached critical mass. Or more accurately, the cancer has spread to every organ of the country. Almost everything is related to or referenced to the “war on terror” now. I mean, no one wants to be the victim of a terrorist attack, but the cure has now reached such epic proportions that it has lost sight of reality. (If it was ever in sight of reality to begin with.) We have refocused virtually the entire US foreign policy and spent hundreds of billions of dollars, all in response to a single act by a tiny group of fanatics? This is like making everyone in the country wear a lightning rod 24/7 to protect them from lightning. Much of the war on terror spending is just as silly, but try telling that to people.
Here in Berkeley the first thing that happened after 911 was that our regional transit system closed all of its bathrooms and removed all the trash containers from the station platforms. It won’t deter any sort of serious terrorist, but by God they are doing something. Oh, and of course they have spent a lot of money since then on signs everywhere telling people to stress out and be paranoid about their fellow passengers. This has been a major theme in the war on terror, spend money and create fear.
I came across this article which goes into much greater detail on this theme. I recommend reading An All Consuming “War on Terror.” The author goes into much detail about how insane this has all gotten. Like the list of “potential terror targets” in the US, it’s over 300,000 strong now and still growing. And of course if your local farmer’s market gets on the list, Federal Anti-Terror Grant time! Its crazy, whole firms have sprung up to cash in on the “war on terror.” Not to mention every single agency of the government has found some way to justify further spending based on “fighting terror.”
And the stress. Roosevelt said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Bush’s message appears to be “Be afraid all the time.” There hasn’t been a terrorist attack in the USA since 911, yet “fear of terror” seems to be encouraged at all levels. Pat Robertson just helpfully predicted a “mass terror attack” on the US for example. Gee, my guess is that the far right evangelicals are making a mint off the “war on terror.” What possible good does it do to encourage people to be afraid all the time?
It’s reached such ridiculous levels that even discussion of the subject meets rousing cries of “you want us to surrender to the terrorists.” What terrorists? Even if there are a few Al Qaeda operatives lurking in the US, they haven’t done anything since 911 and their chances of doing serious damage to the Republic are zero. Not that they need to, we are spending ourselves blind and turning on each other fighting an enemy that can’t even be defined, let alone destroyed.
Tens of millions of Americans now seem to literally think that that the “War on Terror” is the same as World War Two: If we just spend enough money, drop enough bombs, and “liberate” enough countries from “the terrorists” we can hold a big victory parade and it will all be over. Osama couldn’t have guessed in his wildest dreams that when he hijacked a few airliners he would also be hijacking America’s foreign policy and even America’s national psyche itself. I’m not afraid of Al-Qaeda, but I’m starting to be very afraid of what we have created in his name. God help us all.
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