Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fred Clark on Fear

Fred Clark has put together another fine little essay, Be not afraid. The moment I saw the title I had a flashback to a retreat weekend some thirty years ago during which the spiritual refrain was taken from the last verse of John 16, "In this world you will have tribulation but be not afraid, for I have overcome the world." Some translations say be of good cheer or other such words, but Fred's title (as well as a litany of injunctions that appear through the whole Bible) speaks frankly about confronting fear.

No one needs instructions about the connection between fear and terrorism. It is no accident that that wonderful phrase, War on Terror, has been conceived to commence and continue what seems to be new a way of life in American foreign policy. Fear is the most important component of this "war." Gone are the days of "nothing to fear but fear itself." Fear, it seems, has become a way of life. In fact, if you don't grasp and express the notion you may be skating somewhere between ignorance and treason.

Glenn Greenwald says it well...

Every now and then, it is worth noting that substantial portions of the right-wing political movement in the United States -- the Pajamas Media/right-wing-blogosphere/Fox News/Michelle Malkin/Rush-Limbaugh-listener strain -- actually believe that Islamists are going to take over the U.S. and impose sharia law on all of us. And then we will have to be Muslims and "our women" will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have -- not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs -- from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home -- are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the "base," a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion -- a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.

Readers are urged to go read Fred's post in full and follow the links. (Spare yourself the commnets thread unless you have a good deal of time. Interesting conversation, but drifting way off the subject.) He packs a lot of smarts into very few paragraphs.

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