The Taste of Fear

I was sent an excellent column today by a friend. It was written By Tom Friedman and appeared in the New York Times, in the guise of an intelligence report to President Ahmadinejad of Iran. It is well worth reading in its entirety, and I hope that you do so. One of the things that it talks about is the fear that has gripped our country since 9/11/2001. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at the Lied Center here in Lawrence when Leonard Pitts talked about the same issue, much to my interest. Here is part of what Friedman had to say:

First, 9/11 has made America afraid and therefore stupid. The “war on terrorism” is now so deeply embedded in America’s psyche that we think it is “highly likely” that America will continue to export more fear than hope and will continue to defend things like torture and Guantánamo Bay prison and to favor politicians like Mr. Giuliani, who alienates the rest of the world.

I am not going to try to be as sophisticated as either Friedman or Pitts. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, after all. But I do need to at least say that I am in total accord with these gentlemen. They make excellent points, and they are points which all of us need to address if we are ever going to get back to being the country that we were on 9/10/2001.

The Bush administration has shoved fear down our throats for six long years. Mssrs. Bush and Cheney have done their best to make fear a palpable thing in every home and business in our nation so that they could reach their own private ends. They have used that fear against the people of this country every day since the attack on the World Trade Center buildings, in every way possible.

And we bought it. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

This administration has spent us into bankruptcy and subverted our ethical fiber in order to keep the myth of the supposed “War On Terror” alive, and to make our citizens feel obligated to support the mythical “Commander in Chief” that the little Bush pretends to be. For all of his swagger and big talk, this is a Texan who is afraid of horses, for goodness sake, and who was too busy drinking to log his flight time in the Air National Guard.

It is just fortunate for us that the terrorists of the world are really not very good at what they do, because it is hard to see where George has done much to protect us from further attacks. He has built himself a real nice national police force, though, that would have done Stalin proud. George has made a lot of noise, but that is pretty much all it amounts to. In the words of his adopted state, George is all hat, no cattle.

It’s been six years since 9/11. Nothing meaningful has happened on that front since, and that is not thanks to George. It is thanks to the ridiculous nature of this batch of terrorists. They are little more than Dark Ages religious fanatics with dynamite. If we would make our intelligence and police organizations into what they should be, and if we would cooperate with the rest of the world instead of dumping on it, the terrorists would not stand a chance.

So, come on, people, get out from under your desks. Brush off the dust that has gathered on you while you were cowering. While you’re at it, knock the cobwebs out of what is left of your mind. Look around yourself. Pay attention. Identify the problems. Then stand up and do something about them. If Arnold was still willing to point out girly-boys, George W. Bush would be first on the list and Osama bin Laden would be second. One is afraid of horses, the other hides in caves. Both are deadly afraid of the truth.

Pony up, people. Our country need us. And fear tastes too bad to keep in our mouths forever.


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