America was profoundly changed after the September 11 attacks. We went from a country motivated by hope to a country controlled by fear. For the last several years, feeling neither safe nor secure, Americans have lived in extreme anxiety of another impending terrorist attack. I think that as a result, most Americans sought out their faith and reaffirmed their conviction in God. President Bush and the Religious Right’s greatest political weapon has been perpetuating fear. Because of the heightened climate of anxiety coupled with religious fervor, they have been successful in stripping Americans of their personal freedoms, suppressing dissent and winning elections based on moral values. I also think the unfathomable fear of being a victim of another terrorist attack has allowed for the crumbling of the wall between church and state, which is a vital part of our historical, legal and political heritage. By allowing personal religious beliefs to infiltrate our political framework, we have enabled this administration to wage a war on women’s reproductive rights, squelch scientific advancement, take away our freedom of speech and fill important positions within government and possibly the nation’s highest courts with religious extremists. We must not let fear cripple our democracy.
Bush’s actions to manipulate the country using fear remind me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brilliant quote “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” The Bush administration, capitalizing on the horror of 9/11, had the perfect opportunity to wage a war under false pretenses and four years after 9/11, get away with failing to properly secure our borders, ports, airplanes and nuclear power plants. I have written before how this administration could have and should have prevented 9/11 by not ignoring all the threats we were given, or even by beefing up airline cockpit doors. The U.S. continues to be isolated from the international community and thousands of young American soldiers have senselessly been killed and injured. Despite all of the Administration’s mistakes and shortcomings, Bush was re-elected by the American people (regardless of the many accounts of possible voter fraud). People are unable to recognize they are being manipulated when they are paralyzed by fear because their government is constantly reminding them of an impending terrorist attack. During the 2004 election, every time John Kerry’s poll numbers elevated, the government announced a new terror alert and people were once again forced to face the orange color code. The administration has spent more time trying to keep the people frightened, rather than focusing on securing our country. Only last week were lighters banned from airplanes, yet it has been a full 3 ½ years since “Richard Reed” tried to light his shoe bomb on fire with a match, while aboard an American Airlines flight to Miami. Even though lighters are now banned, matches are still permissible on airplanes. This is merely one example among many of how slow the Bush administration has reacted when presented with an opportunity to make Americans more secure. President Bush continues to maintain that he is doing everything in his power to make America safer. Thus far most of the country continues to accept this fallacy. Bush’s actions remind me of Herman Goering’s quote during the Nuremberg Trials, where he stated: “ait’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leadersaall you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotisma”