Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"We Have Nothing But Fear Itself"

There was a time when our leaders sought to assure us that we had nothing to fear but fear itself. It was a message of hope, a recognition that although our problems were very real, only fear could shake the resolve of the American people to persevere.

Regrettably, there have also been times when our leaders sought to promote fear for political purposes, most notably during the Red Scare so cynically exploited by Joe McCarthy and millions of hysterical rightwingers. Like McCarthyism, its socio-political antecedent, Bushism feeds upon fear and ignorance. Like McCarthyism, it champions a distinctly unamerican hostility toward dissent under the guise of patriotism and american ideals. Like McCarthyism, it thrives because decent people driven by fear are willing to overlook transparent lies by their government as long as those lies feed the fear, because in the minds of the hysterics fear = vigilance.

When critics decried the fear-mongering of McCarthyism, his defenders could talk only of the threat of communism. When critics assailed the fundamental unfairness of McCarthyism, his defenders could talk only of the threat of communism. When critics condemned guilt by association and trial by slander, his defenders could talk only of the threat of communism. The threat justified all, but most importantly it justified for Tailgunner Joe and his followers the abnegation of reason and the fomentation of hysteria.

Reasonable questions have been raised regarding the timing of the terror alerts and the timeliness of the underlying intelligence. The Administration has offered nothing in response to explain the timing of the terror alert. It has, however, taken umbrage at the suggestion that politics may have played a part. Tom Ridge insists today that "[w]e don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," even though he interjected into the threat announcement on Sunday a transparently political pitch, hailing "the President's leadership in the war on terror."

We cannot know whether Ridge's motivations are pure or not. We can infer, however, that fear of terror benefits the Administration; the polls confirm this, and the Administration itself must believe it or it would not bleat so incessantly about the terror threat. We can also infer from prior statements by Ridge and the administration that the terror alerts are more art than science, frequently based on nothing more than very general threat indications. The very subjectivity of the terror alerts assures that decisions regarding the timing of terror alerts will be driven in part (perhaps large part) by political considerations. Every call is a close call, and on the margin the considerations underlying an elevation of the threat level will inevitably be political. It is laughable for the Deserter and his henchman to suggest otherwise.

Fear is this Administration's greatest ally. The only question is whether the Administration cynically exploits fear for political purposes. I would ask everyone these questions: Did the Administration seek to exploit fear of Saddam for political purposes? Did the Administration attempt to engender fear by exaggerating the threat posed by Iraq, and hyping the WMD case? Did the Administration seek to politically leverage fear in the weeks leading up to the 2002 mid-term elections by pushing through an unconstitutional, "blank check" war resolution?

Reasonable people will wonder about the timing of the terror alerts. The Administration will piously reject any suggestion of impure motives. But let's get real here - fear and terror are this Administration's metier, and increasingly its only claim upon widespread political support. To pretend otherwise is absurd.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

fear mongering ( which leads to war mongering ) is all, i repeat, all that this evil & corrupt administration has to run / stand on. nothing more. - very oily reasons

5:49 AM  
Blogger Yaz said...

"[T]he abnegation of reason and the fomentation of hysteria" - that's good shit.

These corrupt and contemptible bastards have been cynically exploiting fear since 9/11/01. If the public gets comfortable enough to recognize how Bushism is debasing this country, they trot out Tom Ridge to encourage us to focus on fear. Don't be manipulated the way the slack-jaws have allowed themselves to be.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush Ratings vs. Terror Alerts - take a look at the work done at http://juliusblog.blogspot.com ... what a qwinky dink !!! as ratings dive, terra 'lerts go up !! whowuddathunkit ?!?!?! - oil queue pay shun

6:20 AM  

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