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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tyranny or Terror? Selling the Politics of Fear. - The AIM Network

Tyranny or Terror? Selling the Politics of Fear. - The AIM Network



Tyranny or Terror? Selling the Politics of Fear.














Unless
you have been living under a rock for the last week you will no doubt
be aware that ASIO is about to raise Australia’s terror level from
medium to high. Apparently we are about to be inundated with Aussie ISIS
combatants, and we all need to keep on our toes as the threat is very,
very real!


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But
really, what are we actually afraid of ? The vast majority of
Australians do not live in a hyped up state of paranoia over the
esoteric and ill defined threat of “domestic terrorism”, (That’s
not to say that such an attack could never happen, but the fact that it
hasn’t happened thus far does render the prospect somewhat abstract)
.
The expectation that we will be massacred by a suicide bomber on the
train is not something that we tend to think of as we head off to work
of a morning, nor do we wonder if some mentally unstable drug addict
will open up with a semi automatic at the local school.


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Terrorism4


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Our
fears tend to be far more mundane in nature; “Will I be retrenched?”,
“Will I be able to afford to go to uni?”, “Have I saved in my enough for
retirement?”, “Will interests rates go up?”, “Will my wages be cut?”,
“Will I be able to save a house deposit?”, “Can I afford to go back to
work with the price of child care?”; these are the things that most of
us really sweat.


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As
much as the government would like to shift our axis of fear away from
it’s cruelling budget and toward a shadowy underworld of fanatical
extremists who are feverishly plotting to kill us all, the fact remains
that for most us “Does my bum look big in this”, or “will my
transmission seize up before my next pay cheque” is a greater source of
palpable anxiety than the prospect of some unhinged Jihadi’s returning
from Syria or Iraq.


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But are we living in a fools paradise? Should we be scared? Would our day-to-day lives actually be safer (or better)
if we all adopted the hyper-vigilant cortisol arousal of a combat
soldier? Because surely that is exactly what “raising the threat level”
is suggesting we do?


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FurnitureTerrorism


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I
don’t ask this merely as some form of glib commentary, this is a
serious question. How exactly does the government want us to respond to
this apparent heightening of the threat level, and how would such an
undertaking affect the quality of our lives; and more importantly what
effect, if any, would it have on the material outcome of an actual
terror attack?


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If
our remaining on hyper alert could actually save people from a bomb
blast then maybe, just maybe, it might be worth doing. But the sad fact
is there simply is no evidence that our living in a perpetual state of
exaggerated paranoia would help avert any such tragedy. It wouldn’t have
helped a single person in the world trade centre, or the sari club, or
the train passengers in Madrid. In fact if you look at those parts of
the world were terrorist attacks occur fairly frequently, and consider
how many suicide bombers have been able to walk right up to highly
trained vigilant security professionals and blow themselves up, it’s
fairly obvious that being constantly on guard just isn’t an effective
defence.


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TSA-Threat


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There
are of course the occasional examples of terrorist plots thwarted by
bystanders, like the aeroplane passenger who wrestled the underpants
bomber into submission, (after he noticed smoke billowing from the would be bombers crotch).
But these examples are not generally attributed to super citizens, who,
after years of being strung out on adrenal fatigue, finally found their
relentless zeal vindicated. No, they were generally thwarted by normal
people who just happened to notice something odd, and responded
appropriately. Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this something
that the vast majority of us would do automatically, regardless of the
government rated “threat level”?


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So what is the point of all this talk of “real and imminent danger” and “raising the threat level”?
Apart from seeding a general air of apprehension the only effect such
rhetoric seems to have is increasing the level of racism directed toward
people of middle eastern descent. Statistically speaking we are far
more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, car crashes, bush fires,
domestic violence, suicide, sharks, crocodiles, snake bites… hell, even a
sugar induced diabetic coma is more likely turn up your toes than a
local terrorist. Honestly, it would make more sense for us to be
paralysed with fear at the prospect of hopping in the car and driving to
McDonald’s.


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So
why is the Abbott government so intent on ramping up our levels of
ambient anxiety? Why is Tony out there, day after day banging on about
the “real and present danger” these terrorists pose, when it has
been proven so many times, from the IRA to the Boston marathon, that
ramping up the threat levels will not prevent anything? Hmmm, kind of
makes you wonder?


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While
all this chest beating clearly won’t thwart an attack, it does however
seem to effect the governments standing in the polls. Now I don’t want
to appear too cynical but when Tony bangs on about terrorist threats his
poll ratings go up, and when when we turn our attention back to the
budget and the broader economy his poll ratings go down. Now I accept
that this observation is mere correlation, and there is no empirical
evidence to prove causation, but I am fairly certain that the
correlation is not lost on Mr. Abbott. As Howard proved back in 2001, (when he rode the post 9/11 wave of panicked disbelief to steal a seemingly unwinnable election), there is no greater gift you can give an unpopular government than a terrorist attack.


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poll


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Noting Howard’s success in parleying
terrorism into political capital, Abbott has made valiant efforts to
emulate his Liberal predecessor. MH17, while an undeniable tragedy for
the families and friends of the victims, seemed like a welcome boost in
the polls for Abbott. Like a pit bull with lock jaw Abbott was
determined to milk it for all it was worth. With an unprecedented lack of sensitivity or decorum Abbott bombarded the news cycle, endlessly recounting reports of “remains strewn around the wreckage”, and when that wore thin he moved on to the militarily jingoistic “operation bring them home”, and his ill-advised sabre rattling at Putin.


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Like all good things his poll upswing off the back of MH17 had to come to an end… but Abbott
is an undeniably political animal, and he knows that in the absence of a
real attack, fear of an impending threat is almost as good. Thank god
for ISIS, middle eastern dual nationals, airport security upgrades, ASIO
terror alerts, and Murdoch’s unwavering commitment to keeping them in
the forefront of the news!


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the_suns


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While
Abbott and Murdoch seem to revel in their ability to keep us anxious,
the fact remains Australia is an extraordinarily safe country, and
hopefully it will continue to be so. We have security agencies that work
hard to keep us safe from terrorist threats, and so far they have done a
pretty good job. I am not saying we wont ever have an attack on
domestic soil, but I am saying it is a fools errand to be working
ourselves into a permanent paranoid lather, or mentally aligning
ourselves with some mythical, quasi racist “team Australia” in
order to prevent such an attack from happening. That said FEAR WILL STOP
US ENJOYING OUR LIVES. So it is worth asking ourselves, is living in a
constant state of trepidation really worth it? Especially if the only
perceptible upside is Tony’s position in the polls?


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picnic-in-central-park

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Me?, I’d rather just enjoy my day :-)





More articles by Letitia McQuade:


The Highway to Hell, Hockey’s Trickle Down Delusion


Refugee Insanity; the crippling cost of Australia’s cruelty


Feminist Bitches, who needs them?


Abbott’s war on the environment is facing some tough opposition.


Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA… now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty


THE CLIMATE OF DENIAL: Why real climate action will NEVER come from big business or government.


BEWARE of Abbott’s Free Trade Trojan Horse


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