The nanny state can’t save you

Those who decry the “nanny state” — usually wingnuts who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes and/or who want no governmental restraints on capitalism (because just look at the great effects of unbridled capitalism on our national economy!) – seem to do so pretty fucking selectively.

I can’t believe that the failed attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day still dominates the news headlines (such as “Watch List Grows as Extra Airline Screening Begins,” “Spotty Enforcement for New U.S. Air Screening Rules” and “U.S. Lawmakers to Pore Over Christmas Day Bomb Plot,” all from just today).

Security is important, no doubt, but it’s important every day, and there’s no reason to go ape shit over the occasional security lapse — especially when the lapse resulted in no deaths or devastation. You don’t go ape shit, but you calmly and rationally and intelligently correct the problem, learn from your mistake(s), and then you move on.

Nor should security issues be used politically, as the Repugnicans – whose record on keeping Americans safe is uber-shitty (think 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) – have been doing since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that the unelected Bush regime failed to prevent despite the Aug. 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald sums up nicely the mentality, stoked mostly by the members of the Repugnican Party and other assorted wingnuts, that keeps the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt alive:

…The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful Daddies and Mommies in government will — in that most cringe-inducing, child-like formulation — Keep Us Safe. Whenever the Government fails to do so, the reaction — just as we saw this week — is an ugly combination of petulant, adolescent rage and increasingly unhinged cries that More Be Done to ensure that nothing bad in the world ever happens.

Demands that genuinely inept government officials be held accountable are necessary and wise, but demands that political leaders ensure that we can live in womb-like Absolute Safety are delusional and destructive. Yet this is what the citizenry screams out every time something threatening happens: please, take more of our privacy away; monitor more of our communications; ban more of us from flying; engage in rituals to create the illusion of Strength; imprison more people without charges; take more and more control and power so you can Keep Us Safe.

This is what inevitably happens to a citizenry that is fed a steady diet of fear and terror for years: It regresses into pure childhood. The 5-year-old laying awake in bed, frightened by monsters in the closet, who then crawls into his parents’ bed to feel Protected and Safe, is the same as a citizenry planted in front of the television, petrified by endless imagery of scary Muslim monsters, who then collectively crawl to Government and demand that they take more power and control in order to keep them Protected and Safe.

A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other competing values can only be degraded and depraved….

Yup.

Again, there is no such thing as absolute security.

Better to deal with one’s neurosis of believing that life can be (or even should be) 100-percent risk-free than to continue to expect the nanny state to keep oneself 100-percent risk-free.

And I, for one, do not miss the post-9/11 days — well, years — in which the unelected Bush regime crammed Terror! Terror! Terror! down our throats 24/7, and it sucks ass that the new year and the new decade are beginning with this bullshit that the presidential election of 2008 should have put behind us.

P.S. While I, possessing a bachelor’s degree in journalism, usually disagree with attacks on the media, I have to agree with Greenwald’s further observation that “political leaders possess an inherent interest in maximizing fear levels, as that is what maximizes their power,” and that

For a variety of reasons, nobody aids this process more than our establishment media, motivated by their own interests in ratcheting up fear and Terrorism melodrama as high as possible. The result is a citizenry far more terrorized by our own institutions than foreign Terrorists could ever dream of achieving on their own.

For that reason, a risk that is completely dwarfed by numerous others — the risk of death from Islamic Terrorism — dominates our discourse, paralyzes us with fear, leads us to destroy our economic security and eradicate countless lives in more and more foreign wars, and causes us to beg and plead and demand that our political leaders invade more of our privacy, seize more of our freedom, and radically alter the system of government we were supposed to have.

The one thing we don’t do is ask whether we ourselves are doing anything to fuel this problem and whether we should stop doing it….

Catering to the basest within us makes the media money, even though it harms the nation (the media corporations are in the business of making money, not doing what’s best for the nation), and my guess is that the reason that all of the mainstream media are guilty of fanning the flames of faux terrorism is that they want to keep up with the competition, so they all cry wolf. (We have FOX “News”; why not WOLF “News,” too?)

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