Friday, September 08, 2006
The Fear That Binds
Time was I'd sign on to such an appeal without question or hesitation, particularly if I had confidence in the source of the appeal. There are certainly supporters of this action, on Eschaton and elsewhere. But I find myself pausing for a moment, thinking about the wonders of the post-9/11 security world we live in. It's the little things that eat at me. Where will my name appear after I send this form letter? Will ABC perhaps turn the list of received names over to the FBI for domestic terrorism investigation? Paranoid? Or realistic?
Perhaps it's because what you do on the internet can be accessed and cataloged so easily which gives me pause. I wonder when the number of times my name appears on "suspicious" lists will reach a point that triggers some low-level alarm?
When all dissent becomes grounds for fear, fear becomes second nature. Dissent and public protest become reasons to fear government action or retaliation. We live in the time of fear but I fear terrorists much less than I fear our government. Some say I have nothing to fear if I've done nothing wrong, that the innocent should trust the system. This doesn't take into account that the government's definition of "wrong" shifts and shifts and shifts. We've seen it over the last five years with the creation of caged "free speech zones" and the redefinition of non-violent protest groups as "domestic terrorists". The US is becoming a country where you can freely speak your mind but if anyone actually hears you, you can be charged with sedition.
I will still sign and send the letter. But these are the thoughts I have. These are the doubts I harbor. These are the fears that bloom. I don't believe this is the result of some natural timidity or lack of courage on my part. I believe my government has tainted me with a sickness, touched me with an electric shock of aversion, caused me to flinch from speech and action. This is the Bush legacy: a false pretense of security wrapped around us as we look with fearful eyes, not at outside threats but at each other.
Welcome to Oceania.