Monday, February 15, 2010

Terrorism's Effect On America

Caption: America confronts terrorism

Over at Tom's Dispatch, Tom Englehardt writes what I've been feeling about terrorism and its effect on the United States:

Fear has a way of re-ordering human worlds. That only a relatively small number of determined fanatics with extraordinarily limited access to American soil keep Fear Inc. afloat should, by now, be obvious. What the fear machine produces is the dark underside of the charming Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover, “A View of the World from 9th Avenue,” in which Manhattan looms vast as the rest of the planet fades into near nothingness.

When you see the world “from 9th Avenue,” or from an all-al-Qaeda-all-the-time “news” channel, you see it phantasmagorically. It’s out of all realistic shape and proportion, which means you naturally make stupid decisions. You become incapable of sorting out what matters and what doesn’t, what’s primary and what’s secondary. You become, in short, manipulable.

This is our situation today.

Hold Onto Your Underwear: This Is Not a National Emergency

Make no mistake - the terrorists have won. They persuaded Americans to throw away their freedoms and their values with hardly any fight at all. Nothing the current President has done has changed that one bit.

We're stuck in our own Dark Age, where torture and violating our Constitution are OK in the hope that we will be infinitesimally safer from a small group of religious fanatics half a world away. I hope it's a short one, but I'm afraid correcting this will take more. It will probably take enough time for the fearful and stupid among us to die out and be replaced by reasonable people who are somewhat used to the idea that we live in a universe full of dangers, and that the best way to avoid them is to keep our heads.

I doubt I'll live to see that day.

Englehardt's essay is worth reading in its entirety. It puts the last ten years in perspective as well as any I've read.

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