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News ::
The Terrorist Under Your Bed - a commentary
27 Jun 2002
With the fall of the Berlin Wall political commentators saw it coming. They predicted correctly that “terrorists” would replace “communists” as the demon of choice, the fearful element that would keep the population in line AND continue pumping taxpayer’s dollars into the military-industrial complex

So much is being made of terrorism in the hypeshops of DC these days that echoes of past fabricated scares can scarcely be heard. Be that as it may, it doesn’t take that much digging around in the muck of U.S. politics to discover the bogeymen of the past.
If you think the fanatical terrorist of today is, for the most part, a lot of noise orchestrated by the present administration and the minions of the status quo, hearken back to the great red scare of the late 1940s and early ‘50s. The McCarthy era was so perversely pervasive and chilling in my hopelessly Republican neighborhood that us kids would speak in hushed tones as we passed the Blair’s house. Poor Doug, his father is a …”Democrat”! Even worse, two blocks away was Debbie’s house. Her dad was actually accused of being a (gulp!) communist! You had to have been there to appreciate it. TV shows raised dark images of secret commie cells poised to destroy all that was good and decent in our nation. The enemy within. Your average citizen held tongue about political subjects even vaguely controversial. I kid you not. We lived in a mainly manufactured fear, it served the Republicans well, but behind that fear was the real boogeyman: potential atomic war.
Ushered in with the past century was the designation of anarchists as the demon of choice. Like today, predatory capitalism was coming under fire for its inherent injustice and criminality. Government and capital fought back with the Palmer Raids (where J. Edgar Hoover cut his vicious teeth) and an all out publicity campaign against “bomb throwing anarchists” and Bolsheviks in the bathroom.
Of course, there WERE anarchists and communists who organized against the excesses of capitalism in those times, just as there are today. But most didn’t seek to destroy the nation, rather they hoped to change it, give it a more just face. The policies of those times were the problem, not the Constitution or even the tripartite system of government. The anti-establishment movement of the 1960s was about just that: corporados had commandeered our constitutional democracy. Sound familiar?
This time around that establishment, represented by Big Oil and the corporate Republican machine, are using the scare of terrorism to prop up every course of action from subversion of our constitutional rights to fat subsidies for their corporate cronies. This should be no surprise. With the fall of the Berlin Wall political commentators saw it coming. They predicted correctly that “terrorists” would replace “communists” as the demon of choice, the fearful element that would keep the population in line AND continue pumping taxpayer’s dollars into the military-industrial complex. Checkout the players in the present administration and their friends in Congress and business. They’re all about that. The so-called Patriot Act is a good example of the sort of illegitimate power grab masked as security. But, it’s just the beginning. If this Machine gets to run its course, we’ll be subjected to mandatory ID cards, greatly increased surveillance, more random searches, and citizen informant programs like Operation TIPS, a kind of neighborhood watch on steroids that would make any commissar’s eyes twinkle. All the nightmares of Orwell are coming to fruition.
Yes, there ARE whacko terrorists out there bent on death and destruction, that’s obvious. But just as past Republican administrations used the circumstances of their times to consolidate power, so do today’s perception managers seek to instill fear into the hearts of U.S. citizens. They promise us a Chicken McNugget in every potbelly and two terrorists under each bed. Don’t buy it.
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