The Semantics of Fear (Or Why We Need to Get Mad as Hell)

savage-chickens-by-doug-savageWho says America doesn’t make anything anymore? Our booming steel towns may have gone the way of the conk, and our automotive sector may be rolling on bent rims, but the fear industrial complex is alive and kicking.
Yup, we’ve producing dread and panic faster than we can consume them; from the catchy titles (think “War on Terror”) to the animated infographics, we’re masters at branding “crisis.” In the past week, we’ve closely followed the G20 meetings about the “economic crisis”; looked on as the “lunatic fringe” protestors descended on London during said meetings; read about how the repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws would lead to “certain increase” in crime; and watched as the Canadian possible “terrorist,” a “native of Turkey” stole a plane and landed it on a dirt road in Missouri.

Now I’m not saying that dude might not have flown that Cessna into a building, or that times aren’t hard (hello, I was laid off, too), but I refuse to employ easy shorthand to tell people how they should feel about the day’s events. Or to believe in it, for that matter.

So why does the media insist on packaging fear in pretty little packages and delivering it to your door faster than FedEx? Last year, I wrote about rapid dominance, which the U.S. National Defense University defines as imposing an “overwhelming level of Shock and Awe against an adversary…to paralyze its will to carry on…[to] seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary’s perceptions and understanding of events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance at the tactical and strategic levels.” While we tend to think of military strategies in terms of things we do to other people (“we” being America), I submit that our government is using this strategy to lead the witless media into scaring us shitless in hopes that our collective fear will paralyze us into submission. (Not to mention the media folks who are willfully miring us in the muck, including Limbaugh and O’Reilly.)

If we’re afraid to act as a people, it’s easy to break our spirit. It’s easy to continue to take our money and flush it down the drain at AIG. It’s easy to keep our homies locked in jail for 15 years to life for getting caught with the four ounces of crack they felt compelled to sell to keep their heads above water. It’s easy to send 21,000 troops to Afghanistan to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida.” It’s easy to make it easy to sit on our couches and do nothing.

But all the gripes and self-righteous outrage in the world won’t do a thing against an organized, self-serving machine. We have to take a page out of Obama’s book (that would be Dreams From My Father) and organize our damn selves. Instead of shaking our heads at the cats tearing up the Bank of London, we have to ask ourselves why we aren’t knocking ish down over here? We have to get mad as hell—and do something about it.

Check out this eerily relevant clip from 1976’s Network.

Ready to get mad with me?


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Last 5 posts by kenrya

  • ak

    yes! you put your foot in this one. i would say, “scared of you!” but we’re not doing fear. so in the astute words of bonecrusher: i ain’t never scared.

  • Diane

    Why does the media do this? Because it sells. And the media is all about ratings. I’m not so sure ‘they’ care about what you believe as long as you are watching ‘them.’

    Americans have allowed themselves to be fed lies and innuendos because it is easier than researching, discussing, and formulating an individual opinion.

    There are Americans who feel the present sitters on Capitol Hill are ‘good’ for the U.S. – without taking note of their greed, un-ethicalness, and pandering – much like the CEOs said Americans are all aghast over.

    Americans put on rose-colored blinders and let themselves be talked out of traditional pensions, they allowed themselves to continue to be naive as to how to invest – and just what a mutual fund is, much less derivatives, spyders, etc.

    They wanted to believe in an ethical system that has never been ethical. They wanted to believe in conflict that would democratize 3rd world countries. Why does everyone think the U.S. way is the only right way? Look at Afghanistan – they are passing laws to again make women chattel. This is what we’ve been fighting against, and yet, with our presence, with our aid, it is happening. It may just be that is the WAY they WANT it. And perhaps cramming our ideals (whilst noble) isn’t the way to gain allies.

    Americans desperately want to believe because it is easier than waking up, smelling the coffee, and DOING something about it. Ask teenagers what is going on – some, directly affected by the economic downturn, will tell you they miss cable, eating out, etc. Others won’t have an easy answer because NOTHING has changed in their lives – they still want instant gratification and their parents are loathe to explain that money is tight. I grossly simplify but it’s not that far from the truth. I live with college kids, I have teenager relatives. Blinders…

    So am I mad as hell? Yes. And I don’t want to take it anymore. But I will not sit by and not blame ourselves for some of the mess. Do I want to oust every member of House and Senate, state and Federal? Yes. Then what? We still have deficits that will cripple boomer retirements. We’ve saddled the next few generations with debt – and no simple way out.

    I’m glad that cessna flew over the U.S. Perhaps it will awaken us to the idea we are not safe – course we have no monies to fund real border protection either. And certainly there are easier, and far more deadly, ways of terrorizing us. I would have thought money might do it – but here we sit – allowing the EU to say “The U.S. caused this…” as if they weren’t as greedy.
    And corrupt. And it’s not like their masses are doing anything either.

    Yet the only sign of protest at the G20 – you call ‘lunatic fringe’ K. Really? At least they have passion. At least they have kahones. At least they have a cause worth walking the walk for.

  • krankin

    Great points all, D.

    And I didn’t call them the “lunatic fringe,” Candy Crowely did on CNN. That’s the point; we (and by “we” I mean the media) use these labels to tell folks what to think…

  • Diane

    oops – my apologies… i got so caught up in the ‘it’ of the writing (kudos to you…) – so shame on Candy…

  • Tahad

    Mind Control. Yes! all nationalities in America are now constantly placed under Governmental controlled fear. We went from slave trade to black panther parties, to muslim revolutionaries, now to iraqi terrorism, to war on terrorism. Now it seems to me that all these parties are non-white people. Has anyone bothered to lable the racist white colonist terrorist. They are the real terror.