For Every Action there's a Distraction

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Written by Kyle Lambert

Last week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that three important financial buildings in the country were suggested targets of terrorism. As has been the case since September 11, 2001, the story immediately made front page and top story news across North America. Soon after President Bush declared that his country was “in danger” the standard media frenzy began to pick up and suddenly security officials and politicians from across the United States started appearing in a non-stop series of television interviews and press conferences. Even in Canada, the announcements made top news headings. All of this lasted for a period on only a couple days. Soon after the security frenzy of press conferences and re-hashed stories about duct tape and plastic window coverings came an announcement that quickly had real opponents of the American War of Terror smirking. It was suddenly determined that the threats to the three buildings in question were dated back to 2000, well before anyone in the United States government worried publicly about terrorism.

After nearly three years of promoting its agenda through creating fears of anonymous terror threats, the Bush administration has finally made a mistake. Instead of announcing a vague threat to deter media coverage from an unfriendly story – like perhaps the leadership convention of your chief political opponent – the Bushites at the American Ministry of fear mongering and periodic interior protection made the mistake of giving its opponents a concrete threat which could be verified as untrue. The reaction of many Bush opponents outside of the U.S. was likely just a simple chuckle. You see, many have said all along that the terror threats which always seemed to arrive at convenient moments for the Republican party were a ruse.

However, in the United States the reaction has been different. In an effort to avoid alienating the “middle”, the Democratic party has not gone on the offensive about what should be a national scandal. Many Americans are rightfully furious about being duped over the reason for invading Iraq, yet it is assumed that the same population wouldn’t be equally as furious about being mislead over a terrorist threat within their own borders. Such a notion leaves me with two thoughts. Either the Democratic party doesn’t want to risk looking weak on terror (whatever that means) or it doesn’t really mind the Bush strategy regarding terror threats and control through fear. As you may have guessed, I am inclined to guess the latter.

At its convention, the Democratic Party presented itself as an alternative for working Americans to the big business allied Republicans. While such a position is sure to gain political points, it is far from the reality. The fact is that the Democrats are equally funded by multinational corporations and its elected representatives are expected to do corporate bidding just as much as any Republican. Sure, the Democratic platform is more moderate, but that can be chalked up to vote-grabbing, not ideology. This is the same party that largely supported the Iraq invasion and that voted in favour of the Patriot Act, something that certain had George Orwell rolling in his grave. So why didn’t John Kerry et al. go on the offensive about the false terror threat? Because those same threats which keep the majority of American people on edge benefit the Democrats too. Distractions are used by all political parties, even if the distraction has horrible consequences for some. Should Kerry criticize Bush’s use of terror threats, Bush supporters could bring up Clinton’s bombing of Iraq on the same day as the beginning of his impeachment hearings. If one party uses fear and distraction to its advantage, it cannot really justify criticizing the other for doing the same. The use of fear as a method of a distraction and control in the United States has become a political game played willingly by most involved. It is sad that so many voices and, in some cases, lives are lost in the process of orange alerts and terror threats.

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