Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fear Itself, and the Deadly Varieties of State Terrorism, by Arthur Silber

From: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com I recall a beloved friend recounting for me, several decades ago now, a brief exchange of dialogue from The Andy Griffith Show that she had found especially funny. Barney Fife, as played by the wonderfully loopy Don Knotts, is rapidly hurtling himself into one of his regular fits of hysteria. Andy Griffith attempts, for perhaps the thousandth time, to calm Barney down before he melts into a pool of gibbering goo. "Just remember, Barney," Andy drawls, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This pronouncement fails to have the desired effect. "But that's what I have!" yells Barney. "Fear itself!" And that's what Barack Obama wants you and every other American to have: fear itself. He wants all of you to become quivering pools of mindless goo:
What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis. Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse. That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress.
Feel the fear? Pass my plan, and pass it now, or -- our new bold, transcendent leader tells us -- the world as you know it will cease to exist in significant part. One principle above all is crucial to remember here: whenever any individual is intent on making you act, and when he uses fear as the primary motivation to make you act in the particular way he demands, you should profoundly distrust him. It is almost certain that he is attempting to get you to do something that you might discover cannot be justified. But to discover that, you would need time and calm to consider the arguments, weigh the facts, and determine if different arguments and additional facts have been carefully omitted from those being used to pressure you so mercilessly. But time and calm are precisely those conditions that such an individual will prohibit you from having, to the extent he can. He wants you to be like Barney Fife; he wants you to feel fear itself, and nothing else at all. That way, you are much more likely to do what he demands. In fact, you are almost certain to do it. Americans have the retention capability of a backward gnat. I would say that you must be familiar with this pattern and remember its previous uses, and that you are thus on guard about the momentous dangers it carries. But of course, most Americans remember and understand none of this:
North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security. We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
It worked then, and it will work now. I am very, very far from being an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt. Here's one reason, the internment of Japanese-Americans is another (together with the unreasoning bigotry and hatred directed at the Japanese in general, which the U.S. government did everything in its power to raise to frightening levels: "Everyone from journalists to President Roosevelt routinely used the dehumanizing slang term 'Jap,' and regularly compared Japanese soldiers and civilians to monkeys, baboons, and gorillas. ... New Dealer Paul McNutt, chairman of the War Manpower Commission, went [Elliott Roosevelt] one better, recommending 'the extermination of the Japanese in toto.'") and here are many other reasons, if you can stand a huge dose of reality and a wealth of facts that will undermine those cherished myths so dear to so many. But despite these horrors (and this list is far from complete), and as seen in one of his most famous formulations, Roosevelt still often appealed to Americans as adults and sought the agreement of people who were still recognizably human. At least some of the time, he attempted to steer Americans away from being overcome and paralyzed by fear. Consider the distance we've traveled in the ensuing years. Now, three-quarters of a century later, our heralded new president explicitly and repeatedly seeks to instill mind-obliterating fear in all of us, to reduce all of us to puddles of goo -- so that we will do exactly what he demands. He doesn't want you to reflect on his plan, he doesn't want you to consider the incomprehensible amount of debt his "recovery" bill will add to a nation that is already bankrupt, he doesn't want you to wonder even momentarily if this redirection of massive amounts of resources, both financial and in terms of human labor, will accomplish any of the goals he has proclaimed. He wants one thing, and only one thing: he wants you to obey. And most Americans will. Once again, I emphasize the connection between those murderous tactics consistently employed by the United States government in foreign affairs and identical tactics now used on the domestic front in ways that become increasingly brazen. In discussing this issue, I wrote the following in "Terrorist State, Abroad and At Home":
The fundamental lesson [in U.S. foreign policy] is unmistakable, and unmistakably evil in intent and execution (a word made horribly appropriate in more than one sense by our government's actions): you will do exactly as we say -- or else. It is now critical to note a further implication of this murderous method of dealing with others. Just as it is not possible for an individual to restrict what constitutes a fundamental psychological methodology to only one area of his life, so a ruling class will not employ one approach in foreign policy while dealing with matters of domestic politics in a radically different manner. In any case, the U.S. ruling class never had such a desire: in one way or another, other nations would be made to submit to the demands of the U.S. government -- and the same is true for U.S. citizens. The citizens of America will do exactly as the ruling class demands -- or else. As far as the ruling class is concerned, you have as little reason to complain as the murdered Iraqis do: the ruling class only wishes to improve your life. The ruling class acts only on your behalf, and "for your own good." You now witness these tactics of intimidation and of the most transparently, viciously manipulative fear-mongering deployed by almost every member of the ruling class in connection with the bailout bill. I will not rehearse another time all the reasons this bill will do nothing but hasten the economic destruction of the United States, or why it is supposedly designed to solve a problem that cannot be solved: begin with my most recent essay on this subject, and follow the links (or scroll through the last few weeks of posts) for much more. (In the following, I do not even mention the cruder and more obvious methods of intimidation now so beloved by our government. See an earlier essay -- "Obey or Die" --for just one kind of example of what the cruder methods entail.) The words speak for themselves, but the purpose of these pronouncements should be emphasized: our rulers do not want to scare you to death, although your death would hardly approach a matter of any serious concern for them. While your death is not (necessarily) required, your obedience is. You will obey them -- or else.
There is one particular reason, or rather an interconnected series of reasons, why Obama's stimulus bill will not work and cannot work, although aspects of it may appear to work, but only on the surface and only in the short-term. And certainly, many of the standard Establishment voices, on both left and right, will repeatedly tell us it's working -- but at this point, you should not need me to remind you that those Establishment voices lie to you all the time, about every matter of consequence. And Obama has already proven, in a matter of weeks, that he will maintain additional terrorist tactics in his arsenal, and that he is fully prepared to use them. We will examine these additional issues shortly.

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