Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GOP terror scarers out in force

The same crowd who demanded we not mention 20 murdered schoolchildren in the debate over gun safety reform immediately leapt to making a couple of crazy kids in Boston the new existential threat to national security. Led by Lindsey "Huckleberry Dunderhead" Graham and John "Grumpy Gramps" McCain, a gaggle of GOPers are clamoring to designate the Boston bombers as enemy combatants.

It's not that they don't know their demands are stupid and illegal under the rule of law. They just don't want an exploitable domestic terror event to go to waste. A good dose of fearmongering and pandering to Islamophobia never hurt a Republican, especially with reelection campaigns coming up and a crackpot voter base who threaten to kick them out every time they catch the barest whiff of co-operation with a single Democrat.

I don't think it's wrong to call this domestic terrorism. Every mass murder, successful or not and every bombing no matter how few the deaths is rightly termed as such. Every avoidable industrial accident such as the explosion in West, Texas, could rightly be called the same. The real problem is we only use that designation when the perps are non-white Americans of foreign origin. Thus the media paints Timothy McVeigh as a lone wolf, the Newtown killer as a troubled kid and so on, yet these two kids with foreign names are to be deemed existential threats when they killed less people and clearly were bumbling amateurs.

Indeed, the rush to portray the Boston bombers as larger than life villians is more dangerous to our security than the crimes they committed precisely because it breeds the sort of unreasonable panic which ultimately leads to further degradation of our traditional civil rights. The best take I've seen on this point so far, is this warning against misplaced paranoia. Definitely read the whole thing, but this is key graf.
It is a surreal and difficult-to-explain dynamic. Americans seemingly place an inordinate fear on violence that is random and unexplainable and can be blamed on "others" – jihadists, terrorists, evil-doers etc. But the lurking dangers all around us – the guns, our unhealthy diets, the workplaces that kill 14 Americans every single day – these are just accepted as part of life, the price of freedom, if you will. And so the violence goes, with more Americans dying preventable deaths. But hey, look on the bright side – we got those sons of bitches who blew up the marathon.
The ordinary threats to the public safety surround us but the daily death toll is as unnoticed as the scenery on our daily commutes. If we actually want to find the real existential threats to our way of life, we should be looking in the board rooms of multi-national corporations instead of pinning the blame on a misguided, hapless teenager.

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