The point of terrorism is not to "destroy." It is to terrify. And for eight and a half years now, the dominant federal government response to terrorist threats and attacks has been to magnify their harm by increasing a mood of fear and intimidation. That is the real case against the ludicrous "orange threat level" announcements we hear every three minutes at the airport. It's not just that they're pointless, uninformative, and insulting to our collective intelligence; it's that their larger effect is to make people feel frightened rather than brave.
From Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update:
Myers: This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there’s some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than saying "Show me your papers?" There’s never been a World War II movie that didn’t include the line "show me your papers." It’s their catchphrase. Every time someone says "show me your papers," Hitler’s family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that’s fascism. I know, I know, it’s a dry fascism, but it’s still fascism.
If a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.
This is my protest, too.
I remember Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, inflated military spending, deregulation, two thousand bank failures and bailouts. Reagan was criticized for burdening our children by quadrupling the debt.
I remember George H.W. Bush’s unsustainable tax cuts, military spending, bank failures and bailouts that ran the debt higher. Bush was criticized for burdening our grandchildren.
Where was the Tea Party?
I remember the FDIC Improvement Act of ‘91, signed by Bush, giving the government power to take over failing banks, to conservatively reign them in, to be released when solvent again.
I remember Clinton-era prosperity (with tax increases), based on emerging technologies, a new infrastructure and the Information Age. Clinton left office with a projected surplus of $1.1Trillion.
I remember George W. Bush’s campaign for tax cuts, “It’s our money.”
“It’s our debt,” was the ignored reply.
Bush’s tax cuts (through Senate reconciliation) quickly erased the projected surplus, and with the wars, the debt doubled to nearly $11Trillion.
Where was the Tea Party when trillions were borrowed for tax cuts and to kill people? Oh, here they come, just in time to “rescue” us by weakening and delaying Healthcare Reform that would save people from bankruptcy and untimely death.
Off the top of my head, the United States subsidizes coal, oil, transportation, agricultures, timber, communications, nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, education, healthcare, defense, even tobacco. But, by God, if we don’t make money off of sick people, then we’re goose-stepping toward Communism.
This is my protest, too.
In a shocking testament to the power of subliminal imagery - a quick flash in a laboratory can prime a person's behaviour some time later. It can even affect the most important political action of all - voting.
Do symbols affect the weight we give to different views or do they affect our innate biases? ... For now, the study serves to reiterate how important a simple symbol can be.