I wish I could get the transcript of last night's "Daily Show". Jon Stewart summed this all up so perfectly, but I can't find a video clip of the bit I need, so I'll write my own, with a nod to our hero Mr Stewart.
You knew it was coming. The war in Iraq is dragging on with no resolution in sight, and no strategy to find one. The US government's response to the Katrina disaster - and their hand in causing it - has been a public relations disaster. Tom DeLay has been indicted again. So what's right around the corner...? You can set your clock by it. The terror threats are back.
I normally don't blog about W's bogus scaremongering. I make it a point to never listen to his speeches and am sometimes only dimly aware that he gave one. This one, however, caught my attention, as Moron specifically mentioned my home town.
As if life isn't hard enough in New York City, New Yorkers now have to live with new "specific yet noncredible" threats, based on information of "doubtful credibility." This time the terrorists are going to use briefcases, baby strollers and packages. Add that to the backpacks already being searched, and every one of the seven million people who ride the New York City subway every day is under suspicion and subject to possible search.
The New York Times reports that most riders are carrying on as usual. Of course. Like they have a choice.
I know if I were still in the city, I'd shrug it off, too. But I'm fuming at the gall of these people. (And I'm glad to know my anger hasn't been completely replaced by cynicism after all.) If the goal of terrorism is to foster fear and insecurity, BushCo are the most effective terrorists on the planet. We already know they are excellent at terrorism's more obvious goal, the slaughter of innocent people.
This also relates to something being discussed in comments here. (Just ignore the ongoing family feud.) One thing that makes life in Canada sweeter than life in the US is the absence of this fearmongering.
Imagine living in a country where the government is constantly telling you that you are under threat of attack. The attack could take myriad forms, from the food you eat and the air you breathe to your dark-skinned neighbour with the foreign-sounding name. There's little you can do to protect yourself against these threats, except to "be alert". Now you are both afraid, and helpless.
Then imagine your government uses the fear and helplessness they've planted as an excuse to make war abroad and curtail basic freedoms at home.
Perhaps you are lucky (or stupid) enough to be able to ignore the war. But the fear still effects you. You pass through security checkpoints several times a day. Your neighbour has been visited by the FBI because he attended a peace meeting. A young man in your town was arrested for wearing a t-shirt that said Peace. A sign in your public library warns you that your browsing habits may be reported to the government. The airline you used last month has admitted to sharing their customer database at the government's request, against their stated policy.
If you speak out against these injustices, you are accused of being unpatriotic, even of supporting the terrorists themselves.
In New York City, I used to wander into office buildings that have beautiful lobbies, with interesting architecture or art, or public plazas. Can't do it anymore. Can't bring a backpack into Yankee Stadium. If you carry a backpack (and now a stroller or a briefcase) on the subway, you might be searched.
On any given day, these indignities might not add up to much. But taken together, they must take a toll. And we can imagine what that toll might be. It might start out as stress and fear, but no one can live in a permanent state of heightened anxiety. Stress gives way to acceptance, fear yields to helplessness. Even our righteous anger gives way to cynicism if we aren't careful.
Now imagine living without all that.