Nothing To Fear But Self-Imposed Fear Itself
Nothing To Fear But Self-Imposed Fear Itself
By Steven Hass
To put it mildly, Americans live in a ''climate of fear''. In a peculiar twist, the rest of the world has somehow escaped this fate, at least in comparison to how deeply Americans have settled into this abyss. What are Americans so fearful of that the rest of the world is not? In the most general sense, the answer is simple: "terrorists". What's so hard to understand about Americans' monopoly on the fear of terrorists?
Well, to begin with, nobody has even defined exactly what or whom is meant by "terrorist". How can so many Americans fear something or someone when they don't even know what or whom they're afraid of? Such a fear, in such a degree as is normal today in America, obviously then is not based on fact, but on conditioning. More on this later.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt told us that we had nothing to fear but fear itself, and he was right. When a population subsists on a steady diet of fear, as has been the routine in America since September 11, 2001, fear becomes a paralyzer. The media, marching blindly to the drum of the Bush administration, ensures that citizens are confronted daily with "news" of terrorist activities, video clips of terrorist bombings, and any other information that can be attributed to what they call "terrorists". Compounding the mainstream media's dereliction of duty is the fact that this diet of fear is continuously being fed to a people who show little (if any) motivation to research anything they've been told by the mainstream media. Fear, in these quantities and presented to such a disinterested group, eventually paralyzes any inherent propensity for critical thought, research, and corrective action. This reluctance to gather facts then defines this climate of fear as being self-imposed. It shouldn't be as easy to accomplish as it's been, especially in America.
How have so many Americans been convinced to simply accept what they're told as though it were fact? That's an interesting question without an easy answer. Ask a large number of Americans if they fear "the terrorists", and you'll get a resounding "yes". Ask who these "terrorists" are, and you may get an "al-Qaeda" or "Osama bin Laden", but nothing beyond that. The fact is that this large group of Americans have no idea who they mean by "the terrorists". All they know is that they fear them, because they're constantly being told that we're all in great danger from these scary people.
An unfortunate, but predictable, result of this steady onslaught of sloppy "reporting" is that too many Americans use the term "terrorist" to describe those who are fighting the occupation and destruction of Iraq. These are the people who are feared so greatly. The problem is that many, if not most, of these Iraqi fighters have nothing to do with al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden, yet Americans fear them as though they were Osama's own army. What is missed is what has become glaringly obvious: Iraqis, in general, do not want the American military in their country, they do not want the current (or any future) Iraqi puppet government, and most of them have no idea what a democracy is and thus can't possibly want one. The hypocricy of our invasion of Iraq is staggering, but lost on so many Americans, and is fodder for a much longer article.
Self-imposed fear only occurs by design, not by accident. It requires a calculated program of conditioning. Recalling the day after the attacks on September 11, 2001, it was incredible how quickly the Bush administration had pinned the tail not only on Osama bin Laden (which was correct), but also on Saddam Hussein and Iraq (which was almost laughably incorrect, to the extreme). Incredible, because on the day previous to September 11 nobody in the Bush administration acted as though they had even an inkling of the enormous attack that was coming, much less from whom. The day after, however, Bush and friends suddenly knew exactly who had done the deed. Red flags should have been popping up all over America, because this shows either an impossible overnight intelligence coup, or a predisposition for war in the Middle East. Instead, the program of conditioning was born, and apparently America was ripe for the picking.
In a classic show of history repeating itself, this exact formula worked in Germany in the 1930's. The destruction of the Reichstag was the catalyst for an intense propoganda program designed to make Germans believe they were in constant danger of attack. It worked like a charm, and Hitler was given free reign by the majority of German citizens to pursue his global agenda, because they had been programmed to believe he was protecting "der homeland". Perhaps the average German citizen can be forgiven for being susceptible to the propoganda machine, because information sources were at a premium in those days. Options for news were few, and what options were available were controlled by the German government. The same cannot be said for America in the 21st-century, alive with the internet.
When fear is not based on fact, and therefore is based on conditioning, there is obviously a dangerous problem. This self-imposed fear grants an enormous amount of unchecked power to an extremely small group of people. Fear is a very powerful emotion. Nobody in America understands this more clearly than this small group of very powerful people. To quote Adolph Hitler's own second-in-command, Hermann Goerring, "...it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
It shouldn't work in 21st-century America, of all places, but it's been far too easy to "drag the people along".