Thursday, March 23, 2006

Instilling Fear

Yesterday Attorney General Gonzales had the pleasure of announcing the the indictment of 50 members of Colombian 'narcoterrorist' group FARC. Not as stunning, perhaps, as the January indictment of eleven American 'ecoterrorists.' Still, it's a dangerous trend for the Department of Justice to label everyone they don't like as a "terrorist" since apparently the DOJ needn't follow any laws in its treatment of terrorists.

"We will not tolerate any group that terrorizes the American people," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a Jan. 20 Washington, D.C., press conference.

I'm very literal so it seems like a terrorist should be a very, very scary thing. But Webster's New World and American Heritage dictionaries say terrorism is the "use of threats or force to intimidate." Maybe I'm less easily threatened or intimidated than others but that doesn't sound so scary. Let's call that "threatism." Miriam Webster, my new best friend, defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion" and terror as "intense fear."

Okay. That sounds scary. And here's my point. It's the current White House administration using terror to intimidate. The Earth Liberation Front and the Columbian drug lords really don't inspire intense fear in me. Okay. They shouldn't be setting fires or making millions from the sale of addicting drugs. But if I'm not raping the environment or selling illegal drugs, I just don't find them that threatening.

I do find the systematic attack on the Constitution scary. I do find the Fundamentalist Christian intent to subordinate women scary. I find the right wing subversion of language and lack of critical thinking skills that makes that effort so successful scary.

Long ago I read a science fiction story in which Americans woke one morning to find the government had been taken over by totalitarians. And the book went on to detail how unthinking citizens had allowed this to happen. I wish I could remember the name of that book.

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