Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Fear Season

Well, another Halloween has come and gone. The children have had their overload of candy and are finally winding down. The Grim Reapers, Ghosts, Goblins, Witches and Bogeymen have been relegated to the trash heap of "I was that LAST year" and thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving and how many shopping days left until Christmas.

Halloween is a great time to allow perhaps our own deepest, hidden fears to come forth. While some protest about their belief in ghosts, perhaps, just perhaps, we secretly feel they actually might exist. But with Halloween we can pretend and the pretending makes it ok and not as unsettling. It is but one night out of three hundred and sixty five others that Americans deliberately, but with a sense of fun, try and scare the begeezus out of each other. But though the holiday has come and gone, the fear factor lingers on, compliments of George W. Bush & Co.

Now there is a certain latitude which goes along with fear. Most of us grew up with some level of fear in our lives. Who has not feared an upcoming test in school, or feared our parents disapproval? Who has not believed that there was actually a bogeyman in their closet or under their bed? Parent's, too, are great at striking fear into the hearts of their children with time worn phrases such as, "Do that and you will break your neck!"..."Just wait until your father gets home!"..."You are grounded for LIFE!" We fear not getting what we really, REALLY wanted for Christmas, not making the team, not passing our driving license test, not being asked to the Prom or getting bad grades, not getting into our first choice college. But those fears soon dissolve and the threat of them no longer lingers over our heads.

For the last 1,464 days, however, it has been Halloween on the Potomac. The operative word has been FEAR, and the daily plan is how much of that fear can be struck into the hearts and minds of America's citizens. We were told that we had much to fear from those who hated us for what we have. We were shown images of mushroom clouds and pictures of bearded, dark skinned people who were out to destroy us, unless of course we got them first! Pictures of containers which supposedly housed WMD's which could wipe us out in a heartbeat. And to make doubly sure that the fear level remained fairly high, lest we forget, or allowed it to fade into the background, color coded "fear" alerts to help us remember. There has been a pattern to this fear mongering.

Each and every time there has been a meltdown of some sort, in this administration, we have had the spectre of horrible, ghoulish things happening. All of the warnings, however, have been carefully choreographed and controlled by the administration. When the fear factor is underwritten by those who are sworn to protect you, it is the ultimate form of control, and used in it's highest form by those who are out of control. Since September 11, we have been fed government sponsored terrorist alerts. We are told it is not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN. Meanwhile, our ports, chemical plants and railways go unprotected. Our airports are still at risk with no serious monitoring of cargo, but plenty of diaper bag scrutiny.

When it was intimated that Bush & Co. did in fact have intel prior to September 11, and that members of his administration had, basically, ignored those warnings, the media was fed hoaxed terror alerts which supposedly targeted among other things, the Statue of Liberty, shopping malls, the Brooklyn Bridge, sports stadiums and nuclear power plants. Other terror alerts warned of Pakistanis who had entered the country and planned on using a dirty bomb to wreck havoc. All of these things were uncorroborated by the CIA or the FBI but were being issued in order to keep the fear level high in order that Bush might be seen as the great protector. Even as the last election showed a closer race than liked between Kerry and Bush, we were once again treated to a video tape from the elusive Osama Bin Laden (he of the Wanted Dead or Alive posters...THE Bogeyman!). No one knows how long the tape had been in the hands of those in control, but it's chosen release time coincided with the election and obviously had the desired effect. We did not switch horses in mid stream, and Bush, apparently, was the man to fight terrorism. Look at what he had done so far! No more attacks on the Homeland!

Real threats on the other hand are mainly ignored. Government agencies which were created in order to address real threats, such as hurricanes and their aftermath, have bogged down. The behemoth that is Homeland Security is unable to come to the fore when disaster strikes through acts of nature, so how on earth can we be safe from terrorists? We had all the warning in the world about the threat which was Hurricane Katrina, and still, those warnings fell largely on deaf ears and the resultant destruction from that one storm eclipsed the WTC attack in scope and scale of disaster.

When the threats are revealed, for the hoaxes that they are, they manage to exonerate themselves by stating that they were "misinformed". Like yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater, this sort of activity is illegal and punishable by fines and a prison term. But it seems that now, those who have been so willing to keep us in a state of fear, who have lied and manipulated are themselves fearful of the future, as well they should be. Slowly they are being unmasked as the fearful bogeymen that they truly are.

I wonder what the market will be next Halloween for Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld masks. No one will want to be "Scooter" Libby.

Susan Goodwin