There is no terrorist threat: The feds want you to think there is, compliant media goes along
Summertime, and the chicanery is easy. The Obama administration’s latest rendering of our invisible but eternal “terrorist threat,” I mean.
After a week of ghost stories about an imminent but vaporous plot on the part of an al-Qaida “affiliate” — this is the big new word — it is hard to decide which is more disheartening: 1) The White House’s blithe if clumsy deployment of factoids, 2) the supine complicity of the media (and this, frankly, is my choice), or 3) the willingness of honorable liberals and capital-D Democrats to go along with the show simply because Obama is maestro and one stays with Obama no matter what he does.
Nothing can be said for certain as to what prompted the State Department to close more than 20 embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa last Sunday, and this is by design. But it is no excuse not to raise the possibility that Americans are eating a summer salad of nonsense served to justify objectionable surveillance practices now coming in for scrutiny.
This prospect seems so self-evident that one feels almost silly raising it, except that so few have. Let us insert it into the conversation. To me, the silence among our newspapers and broadcasters on this point confirms only how dangerously circumscribed American political discourse has become. It is all text and subtext now, and the subtext, by definition, is known but never allowed to pierce the surface of silence.
Washington has been erecting a quite warped worldview atop the terror narrative since 2001, if there is anyone left who has not noticed. Our once-promising president has signed on, and plenty of people seem intent on not noticing this. But flinching is of no use. It is imperative that this nation come to clear, proper terms with the question of terror. Reversion to the paranoid style, a habit that dates to America’s founding, is already producing damaging consequences.
Now that we are onto history and the purposeful production of paranoia, let us revisit the late winter of 1947 — March 12, to be exact. That is the day Harry Truman began the Cold War, by the reckoning of many (not all) scholars. Truman wanted to send $400 million to the Greek monarchy to suppress a popular, mixed-bag rebellion. But would a stingy, isolationist Congress buy into this momentous move? The American public was in no mood, either. (In the bargain, the monarchy in Athens was crypto-fascist even by the accounts of State Department diplomats.)
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