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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