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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Are you afeared? July 6, 2007 8:31 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
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Ridiculous though it sounds to outsiders, Americans are regularly told that their survival as a free society depends on beating the “terrorists.” They should treat those who say such things as fools or deliberate liars, but they don’t. So the manipulators of public opinion in the White House and the more compliant sectors of the U.S. media will give bigger play to the British bombings-that-weren’t than Britain’s own government and media have, and they will get away with it. [Source]

If you are afraid, and you are desperate, you can easily be oppressed.

There has been only one major terrorist attack in the United States since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and that one, on 9/11, is now almost six years in the past. So how have Americans been persuaded that their duty and their destiny in the 21st century is to lead the world in a titanic, globe-spanning “long war” against terrorism?

“I don’t think the [American people] realize that this has been something that’s been going on for a few hundred years, and our enemies have another 100-year plan,” Thompson continued.

[Source]

Update: This seems relevant.

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1. Barry - July 9, 2007

I think you discount the notion that this is a world-changing struggle too easily.

I find the fact we haven’t been hit again, and worse – MUCH worse – rather confusing and almost frustrating. Not that I mind, of course. I’m extremely happy that someone, somewhere seems to be doing their job. Or perhaps it’s divine intervention..don’t think that thought hasn’t actually crossed to my frontal lobe a time or two.

We’ve entered into a technological and social era where blindingly bad terrorism is a possibility and likely a probability. And can only get worse as time goes on and bad people have more and more time to find really nasty ways to hurt us. And we won’t be able to stop.

Suitcase nukes. Hell, real nukes, smuggled in from old Russian missles. Bio attacks. Chemical attacks. Each passing minute the technology improves to make these possible attacks easier.

The only way to help ensure these don’t happen is to beat the terrorists. Yes, beat them. It doesn’t necessarily mean kill them, but we have to beat them. We have to find a way to neutralize their animosity toward us – if that means politics (*shudder*) great, as long as it works. If that means economic, or social change – much better. I’d much rather see an Iraq or Afghanistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Syria that looks more like a Turkey or Qatar or even Kuwait. It’s possible. But if it also means, after the options are exhausted that they have to be killed – so be it. But they have to be beaten. Defeat is not an option.

2. Doug McCaughan - July 10, 2007

I think the point of the article was not that we don’t have to fight and even defeat terrorism but that we need to stop the fear mongering and over-reactions to when it does happen. Granted, when people die or get maimed by someone’s irrational, illogical act against humanity there is no “under reaction.”

When we allow the government to scare us and use these acts of terror or attempted acts of terror to change the way we live or give up our constitutional rights, then the government has become the terrorist. The terrorists no longer have to commit acts of terror. They merely have to create the possibility of an act of terror and our government does the rest for them.

The goal of the terrorists on 9/11/2001 was to disrupt the American way of life. They succeeded. Every time we stop a terror threat or a bombing happens in Europe, our media goes nuts and blows it out of proportion panicking the people while these other countries remain cool. If we are to defeat the terrorists, we must begin by not allowing our own government to terrorize us.

3. Barry - July 11, 2007

I’m interested how you think the media reporting of the British terror plots were blown out of proportion, and where people were “panicked” as a result here in this country. I must’ve missed it because it never seemed that way to me. Granted I left for vacation on the tail end of it, but still.

Similarly, I’d like to see compelling evidence the government is intentionally “terrorizing” us to the extent you can define them as “terrorists”. Assuming you use the definition of a terrorist as one who uses violence and/or threats of violence to further some sort of unwanted political agenda. I’ve heard this mantra over and over since 9/11 but have yet to see any real evidence of it. And trust me, I’ve paid attention as much as I feasibly can.

4. Doug McCaughan - July 11, 2007

I based part of that statement on their opening two paragraphs.

One of the would-be London bombers on June 29 drove erratically down Haymarket–presumably affected by the fumes from the gas cylinders and gasoline containers that were the heart of his makeshift car-bomb–before crashing into a garbage bin, getting out and running away. Another parked his explosives-packed car illegally, so it was towed away. The third attack was at Glasgow airport on the following day, but nobody was hurt except one of the attackers, who set himself on fire.

More competent terrorists might have killed dozens of people, of course, but it’s safe to say that this incident will be taken more seriously in the United States than in Britain itself or anywhere else in Europe.

Come to think of it, you’re right. We gave more media to Paris Hilton and American Idol. Maybe its the media, and not the government, that is responsible for making things fearful in a self-serving search for an audience. This from the Washington Post::

The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America. … That is the result of five years of almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror, quite unlike the more muted reactions of several other nations (Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, to mention just a few) that also have suffered painful terrorist acts. [Source]

Of course, one could argue that those countries with “muted reactions” have continued to experience terror while we have been fortunate to avoid it. Several blogs (I suppose these could be conspiracy minded lefty blogs–I’m not really that good at this political stuff) have cited the President’s latest speech as fear mongering.

Bruce Schneier, who blogs on security and security technologies, ran a contest to see what common items we could get the TSA to ban. His three semi finalists got water, security check points, and wires banned. Creating terror seems easy. I think with a couple of dozen people and some lengths of chain, I could take out most of the power in a city. That would cause terror. The challenge our government faces is not in preventing every possible way terror could be created but in eliminating a terrorist’s desire to commit terror. Compelling evidence the government is intentionally “terrorizing”? I’m not good enough to produce that in short measure. But I feel it. I sense it in the way Dick and George seem to put themselves outside the rules of our government “not a member of the executive branch” and “executive privilege” And how in a short period of time the Patriot Act and other similar moves by Congress have changed our society complete with AT&T and its secret room et al.

5. Barry - July 11, 2007

I read your first quote above (source? American or European press?) but saw nothing but descriptive reporting. It said what the three sets of terrorists did and what the results are. It doesn’t follow-up or explain why it’s “safe to say that this incident will be taken more seriously in the United States than in Britain itself or anywhere else in Europe” – it just hangs the statement out there for your own agreement or disagreement. That’s bad journalism (more like partisan journalism, to be more specific, but still bad).

Which I think is the point. The media picks up on every little thing and uses it to sell papers/ratings/ad time/whatever. That’s one reason bloggers are important, but they have to not take and run with every hyperbole that comes down the political pike, like “fearmongering” (geez I hate that term with a passion), “brainwashing”, or other concepts like that the government is deliberately terrorizing the population in order to further some sort of totalitarian agenda – those are, respectfully, tinfoil hat concepts and in my opinion not really based on a realistic assessment of what’s going on in America.

You’re right, the media jumps right into a story and makes it sexy. Some people would equate that with the government having a hand in inflating the seriousness of things, but I don’t believe so.

6. Doug McCaughan - July 11, 2007

The first quote comes from a Canadian press. Eh.

You’re right, the media jumps right into a story and makes it sexy. Some people would equate that with the government having a hand in inflating the seriousness of things… [Source]

Good point!

It’s interesting that we’ve been able to draw so much out of this one. I honestly wasn’t terribly moved by the piece when I read it which is why I didn’t add any commentary. I almost did not post it at all but I do feel that our politicians try to scare us into letting them pass things like The Patriot Act so I thought. Maybe fear is what it takes to get Joe Public to do anything political now-a-days. The “afraid…desperate…oppressed” is a half-hearted attempt to quote Tony Benn.

Now what about photography as a threat to national security. Isn’t that going too far? People are now afraid to take photographs? If I am a terrorist scoping out a site, you won’t see my camera. It’s like that costume shop which didn’t want me taking pictures because I “might set up your own shop to compete with us.” If I’m a bad guy, I’d have a concealed video camera rather than a point and shoot digital in plain sight.

7. Barry - July 11, 2007

Can’t look at the Flickr sites at work – blocked 🙁 – but I will at home.

What bothers me most is people take the “government is bad” meme and just run with it, and use any story or idea as fuel that fits their mindset without actually taking time to explore what they’re really saying.

All it seems to do is build bigger and stronger walls around both sides, without trying to actually break those walls down and communicate. Hm, if I could draw that would make a good political cartoon: Ann Coulter and Rosie O’Donnell, each behind a wall that each is fervently building, brick by brick, and each brick is a buzzword, “fearmongering,” “imperialism”, “islamofascist”, “traitor”, “feminazi”, “racist”, etc, etc. And the walls get higher and higher, while the little American Joe Public stands between the two walls, saying to each in a little tiny voice, “hello?”

8. Doug McCaughan - July 11, 2007

Oh I’ve longed for artistic skills to do the same. I like the one describe!

The flickr photo is just a nondescript glass building in New York where security ushered the photographer away on the grounds that photography was not allowed for reasons of national security.


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