Monday, October 29, 2007

Keeping them scared

Via Vanity Press, Paul Krugman makes the point, once again, that the pants-pissing brigade is buying into a strategy designed to keep the Republicans in power by preying on, and fomenting, fear amongst the American population.
Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.


... there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s.

In fact, to anyone who has the slightest inkling of what Islam is all about, Islamofascism is a word (a new word at that) which contradicts itself by combining two opposing ideologies. Fascism requires that the population adhere to the demands of the state; Fundamentalist Muslims reject state control of everything. Or is it lost on those standing in a puddle that most well-known Muslim extremists are stateless?

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration adopted fear-mongering as a political strategy. Instead of treating the attack as what it was — an atrocity committed by a fundamentally weak, though ruthless adversary — the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction.

Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up — perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general.
Slashing and biting at a weak threat is what a panic-stricken animal does when fear overwhelms it.

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