Friday, August 11, 2006

When We Fear Fear , Who Wins?

TERRORISM: The systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police. -Encylopedia Britannica

- 2,973 deaths caused by the Sept. 11 hijackings.

- 3,646 deaths caused by terrorist bombings and shootings around the world in 2004, including 35 Americas.

- 2597 American soldiers killed in Iraq.

- 40-45,000 civilian deaths in Iraq since the 2003 Invasion.

- 49,693 deaths caused by homicide on the streets of the USA in 2003.

- 43,005 deaths in the USA in 2002 caused in the by motor vehicles.

-400,000 deaths caused EVERY YEAR in the USA from smoking tobacco.

If we take these numbers to be fairly consistent then we can say in 2001 there were approximately 10 times more people murdered by their fellow citizens than were murdered on 9-11. There were 100 times more people killed by cigarette smoke. You are 10 times more likely to be killed driving to work than you are to be murdered in a terrorist attack.

I understand that it is easy to play games with numbers however, the point I am trying to make is that our attention has been so consumed with the random nature of the terrorist threat that we seem to have lost our sense of perspective. Isn't that the goal of terrorism? The very nature of terrorism is that it feeds off of an unreasonable fear. And when governments amplify that fear who are they serving?

Who was served here in Washington DC when huge budget cuts were made in after school programs, community policing and neighborhood youth programs to make way for homeland security? We are only 10 years removed from the loss of almost an entire generation of young black men to the murder wave which swept through this city in the late 80s and early 90s. After years of investment in community crime prevention and a methodical recovery we find ourselves once again in the midst of a "crime emergency" which many community activists blame directly on the diversion of funds and focus from these programs since 9-11.

Who was served when Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans and the federal government was nowhere to be found? We have the National Guard stretched to the bone fighting foreign wars instead of taking care of their actual mandate which is to protect the "homeland" during wartime or disaster. What did the billions of dollars diverted to homeland security do for the people of New Orleans during their time of need?

I am not saying that terrorism is a fabrication or that due diligence should not be used in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks. I am saying however that we should examine why we divert so many resources to a threat which is so remote when we have more imminent threats to our everyday existence that are begging for our attention; and why we are so willing to abdicate the very freedom we say we are defending to government officials who time and again prove their willingness to abuse whatever power is granted them. If the terrorist agenda is to strike unreasonable fear and alter our economy and the government's agenda is to consolidate power then there are two obvious winners in the global war on terror and neither one of them is us. The way I see it, one hand washes the other.


At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lastly, the immortal words of Jawbox.

I've been hooked on the whole conspiracy theory behind 9/11. I really need to stop and let nature run it's course. It's so brilliantly close to a concrete possibility. Now I'm the freak for considering it.

We need to wipe-out the "Fear-machine." We are so juvenile in our attempts at coexistence, it's frustrating. Sometimes I feel like we're still in the Ice Age as far as cognitive thought, productive analysis and responsible decision making are concerned.

Will we ever get there, to the land of the "Golden Idea." True peace, true understanding, true health?

End times my friend, end times. Help us Kirk Cameron!


At 3:12 PM, Blogger Alec The Bee said...

Isn't it crazy how the those thumping their bilbles, korans, etc. seem to be stepping over each other to be the first to justify the killing.


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