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Right Intention: Terrorism is All in Our Heads

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Terrorism is All in Our Heads

There is a new documentary about to aired in Britain that pretty much says terrorism is just a figment of our imagination. The title is "The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear" and it's profiled- where else?- in the Guardian.

I'm not sure what offends me most about this. In one way it's predictable. The September 10th mindset is found on the left in general, not just amongst the Berkeley demonstrators here in the US. There is a fervent desire amongst those on the left to put their heads in the sand and pretend September 11th never happened. Their worldview of every person on the planet holding hands singing “kumbaya” and of peace, love & harmony was shattered on that day and the leftists want to return to it, whatever the cost. However, there is this inconvenient “terrorism” problem that has to be dealt with first. How do deal with it? By downplaying it at every opportunity. You either say the threat is exaggerated, accuse anyone who discusses terrorism of fear mongering, try to convince people that we somehow deserved 9-11 and we can make the whole problem go away by being nice to the terrorists, or try to define it in as narrow of terms as possible.

Examples? 51% of Democrats believe that America wrongdoing somehow motivated the 9-11 attacks according to a Pew study from a couple of months ago. Here’s another one. Why is it that every time the threat assessment is moved up some Democrats accuse the administration of playing politics with terrorism? It’s nice to have it both ways. If the government warns us, they are fear mongering. If it doesn’t and we are attacked, the administration is incompetent. How about the narrow focus on Bin Laden? A day doesn’t go by without the left accusing the President of failing in the WOT by the inability to find Bin Laden, at least so far. All positive developments in the Middle East are ignored. Democrats want you to believe that the second he’s caught (if he’s still alive) that the War on Terror will be over and we can get back to the 1990s. The idea that that Islamist fascism is the disease and spreading freedom and democracy is the cure is not a popular idea on the left, for some reason. And finally you have idiots like Michael Moore, amongst others, who are trying to convince people that this whole terrorism thing is exaggerated.

Here are a few parts of the article that offend me the most.

Much of the currently perceived threat from international terrorism, the series argues, "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media."

As if September 11th never happened. 3,000 people died because of some guys with boxcutters and a fair amount of ingenuity. And now we are supposed to discount what they could do with more powerful weapons, such as, oh let me think, nukes? What planet is this person on?

"In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power."

This is standard leftist dogma. They believe that all things the government does must be viewed with suspicion for people in the government are inherently evil.

"If a bomb goes off, the fear I have is that everyone will say, 'You're completely wrong,' even if the incident doesn't touch my argument. This shows the way we have all become trapped, the way even I have become trapped by a fear that is completely irrational."

So his biggest fear isn’t a massive terrorist attack with tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties. His fear is that if that scenario happens, his theory of terrorism being exaggerated will be discredited. How do people like this get a platform to present their crackpot ideas in the first place?

The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have "sleeper cells".

No sleeper cells? Apparently he isn’t familiar with how the 9/11 hijackers lived in the US for a couple of years before they pulled off their attack.

But Curtis insists,"There is no way that I'm trying to be controversial just for the sake of it." Neither is he trying to be an anti-conservative polemicist like Michael Moore: "[Moore's] purpose is avowedly political. My hope is that you won't be able to tell what my politics are."

Can’t tell what his politics are? Who is he kidding? I’ll eat a baseball hat if he doesn’t lean severely to the left. But this statement is revealing in a way. In order to get their ideas taken seriously, the left needs to disguise them somehow. He has to pretend he’s neutral in some sense. The same way our mainstream media depends on an illusion of being fair and balanced to get people to listen, he has to pretend that he is a neutral scholar who’s solely motivated by the truth.

But whatever the reception of the series, this fear could be around for a while. It took the British government decades to dismantle the draconian laws it passed against French revolutionary infiltrators; the cold war was sustained for almost half a century without Russia invading the west, or even conclusive evidence that it ever intended to.

So now the Cold War was overblown? Perhaps the Soviet Union didn’t invade because the US promised to annihilate them if they did? Nah.

"We are probably moving to a point in the UK where national security becomes the electoral question."

God forbid that national security become an election issue.

And so forth. Look. I can respect the views about how the War on Terror should be fought. Was Iraq right or wrong? Only time will tell. Have we done our best in Afghanistan? Who knows? But I can’t respect the people who somehow believe that terrorism is all in our heads and are doing their absolute best to convince the population of this. This is the biggest issue I have with the Democratic party in general and John Kerry in particular. Regardless of how they try to hide it for general election purposes, a large percentage of the left does not take the threat of terrorism seriously and will not prosecute the war vigorously. And it’s nonsense like this documentary that prove my point.


Blogger d0g3n said...

One thing I admire about the right is their ability to use hyperbole. You should note, however, that there is a difference between hyperbole (using exaggeration for effect) and sound argument.

Nowhere in the article you reference does the author state that terrorism "is all in our heads." I believe that the central thesis is that the "war on terror" has become a self-propagating system, with each terrorism-inspired political decision setting the stage for more of the same. It is a complex argument, and I can understand why it may be easier to rely on the argumentum ad invidiam.

5:53 PM  

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