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America: Fear and Cowardice

Comments on America: Fear and Cowardice

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Posted 11/10/13 - 1:45 PM:
Subject: America: Fear and Cowardice
My daily web browsing brought me to this article which stirred up thoughts I've frequently been mulling in the 12 years since 9/11:

Like many (most?) Americans, I craved retribution in the days afterward. But what we got was something else entirely.

Our government and media has used this event and those since to sow irrational fear and cowardice amongst the people ever since. I personally find it disgusting.

When one steps back and looks at what really happened (a handful of terrorists destroyed a few buildings and only killed a couple thousand people) the fear this has evoked is completely irrational.

Is this the same America that lived for decades under the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War? These shadowy bogeyman terrorists can't destroy America. 9/11 was a slap in the face but our own reaction to it amounts to self-castration.

Even if our enemies were to somehow use an atomic weapon against one of our cities, America would go on. Thousands die every day in our country just as people die every day all over the world. Death can come for anyone at any time and there is little that can be done about it.

Sacrificing our own freedoms and rights and turning our country into a paranoid police state for no reason other than our own cowardice is insanity. The behemoth security apparatus we have constructed is begging for a dictator to seize control. We are fortunate that our leaders have not yet done so but human nature being what it is, for how long can we count on their good will?

With all of the above said, the article linked above triggered a new question: Is this American cowardice a new phenomenon since 9/11 or have we always been cowards? My less than scholarly knowledge of history leads me to think it is the later but I will have to research this further....

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Posted 11/11/13 - 11:43 AM:

To the best of my own knowledge, Americans were not always cowards.

This is just a clip from an HBO TV series "The Newsroom".

As an American myself, I am ashamed of our current state. We could be so much better than we are.
Nihil Loc
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Posted 11/13/13 - 6:27 PM:

I remember back to a video in a college Poli-sci course about the Pentagon. Someone left a phone-book sized document in the middle of the parking lot and it caused a somewhat over the top security reaction to occur -- bomb squad comes out and people evacuated. Maybe it was the excuse for a training exercise but it made me reflect that there is a certain level of paranoia (or justified perceived threat) that occurs in areas (in people) where power is concentrated, whether symbolic or actual. I think this was after 9-11 so the elevated sense of threat was understandable at the Pentagon.

Dictators (kings) in other countries have historically been self consumed by perceived threats to their power. They become monsters in their attempts to maintain their power.

The true balance to the decline in freedoms and human rights in America is democratic action that goes beyond mere voting (protests and civil unrest). The Progressive era of America was really violent and the response of the elite to control and suppress labor movements and civil rights was no different than it is today. Dissenters were imprisoned and targeted with violence, laws against free speech were hastily put in place. What we are seeing is somewhat of a regression or shrinking of democracy in America today at a quickening pace.


Just now, after writing this, I cannot help but think about how private intelligence agencies mine internet data. What terms in any document elevate that document to a category of threat. What would you need to say in order to be read by an actual person in an intelligence agency.

Edited by Nihil Loc on 11/13/13 - 6:37 PM
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Posted 11/14/13 - 1:03 AM:

Thanks for your input. I'm still considering this issue but I'm leaning towards a trend of increasing cowardice over the last century, with 9/11 being a big accelerator.

Nihil Loc, you make some good points about "democratic action" beyond voting.

Governments, as the legitimate wielders of force in a society can be compelled to change their policies through non-violent resistance which eventually requires the government to decide between enforcing their policies through violence (which can make the government appear villainous and render itself illegitimate in the minds of the people) or acquiesce on the issue and retain legitimacy.

However, this is a dangerous game as the last century has shown many governments, including our own, are prepared to perpetrate significant violence against their civilian populations.

While a few brave individuals like Snowden and Manning have helped, I am uncertain of how much more it will take for the American people to wake up to the fact that our paranoid schizophrenic government is the true villain and the "evil terrorists" are little more than impotent bogeymen; and to do so in sufficient numbers to effect real change.

Between our general cowardice and our lethargic consumerist lifestyle, if the elite can continue to provide us with our bread and circuses I have grave doubts that the average American can be swayed to consider, accept and then ultimately act on the truth at all, much less for even the duration of our 5-minute attention spans. sad

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