"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Be Afraid! Because Paranoia Is Patriotic
The overuse of the terms "terrorism" and "terrorist" have rendered useless their descriptive abilities. But this plays well to a polity that receives most of its misinformation via television and Hollywood. The "terrorists" are shadowy, dark skinned (always dark skinned) figures emerging from far away, mysterious places. Like Martians that come from a distant planet, they arrive with no other goal but to conquer decent earthlings. Our mission is to "fight terrorism," meaning simply, to kill them before they kill us first. It's as simple as that. Our fearless leaders have informed us that this war will go on for a very, very long time. We must accept their interpretation of this dark scenario without question, without challenging them, as they are the all-knowing ones.
What an uncomplicated and effective script. But can we read behind the lines? Terror is often state-sponsored, expressed through Apache helicopter missions and sophisticated missile strikes. Terror is the torturing of naked, hooded prisoners. Terror is seen in the eyes of an Iraqi mother as she watches her child die of cancer from depleted uranium. Terror comes in many packages, and some are "Made in the USA."
"Shut up!" yells the angry consumer of the terror war; "You're confusing me!" You see, it isn't possible to contextualize terror in Orwellian America. War is Peace, liberation is occupation, and democracy is hegemony. Terrorism can only be committed by "those people," and heaven knows we have never done a thing to anger anyone. Never have we implemented unjust policies in any region or supported corrupt regimes, never have we been self-serving or forceful. And don't point down the road of historical research, which might skew the only acceptable version of the terror war.
In the same way that we were duped into believing there were WMDs in Iraq, we must also believe our leaders' version of the "War against Terror," and consequently be afraid, be very afraid, all of the time.
We can remain in this state of fear and war endlessly; there is no need to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or any of the legitimate grievances of "those people." Why try to address and deal with root causes of terror, like anger at our policies? Doesn't it make more sense to exist instead in this heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia, all of the time, with no reprieve in sight? Look, we can keep shipping our sons and daughters all over the globe to fight "the bad guys," can't we? Our denial will never catch up with us, will it? Our empire will remain secure forever, won't it?
Nothing is more depressing right now than the ignorant, lock stock and barrel acceptance of the "War against Terror" as an inevitable condition that can only be countered with insipid, violent responses, otherwise known as state-sponsored terror. In that vein, let us stop using the term "terrorist" to describe the "other" and let us define the state-sponsored terrorists as "us," and the stateless terrorists can represent "them." Then, let us rename the destructive cycle of violence that defines the bogus "War on Terror," and call it by its rightful name, "Terrorists fighting Terrorists." Most important, by accurately portraying the war and root causes, we might offer those few thinking citizens who remain some semblance of hope in the ability to continue working to rise above it.