Thursday, December 20, 2007

War on Fear

This week federal, state, and local officials all collaborated in making a huge gang bust in my hometown of Flint, Michigan. Bringing down the Pierson Hood gang, as they call themselves, has been said to be a critical move in alleviating criminal offenses currently plaguing the city.

Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about this bust and the significance it can and/or will have on the city and – indeed – the nation. She seems to think that this bust is a perfect application of HR. 1279 [109]: The Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005 which passed through the House two years ago, but has not been voted on by the Senate. This anti-gang bill along with the recent efforts in Flint are said to be battles in the so-called "War on Gangs".

Frankly, I’m not as optimistic.

Whenever I hear about a new "War on (fill in your own fear-generating phrase), I cringe. Not only do these "wars" provide the breeding ground for bigotry and other potentially harmful implications to certain individuals, but they also allow politicians and officials to create and legitimize a corrupt and exploitative agenda.

For as long as I can remember, "war" catchphrases have been used as a subterfuge for politicians to effortless gain support for insipid (at least I think they are) and resource-depleting programs (you can’t argue with that one. I dare you.). But, as a consistent trend, each of these initiatives have failed miserably; largely due to the negative implications that rose from them. LBJ’s “War on Poverty” did nothing but create an increased dependance on "the government" to fix everything. Obviously, that hasn't work very well. Richard Nixon’s "War on Drugs" only made getting medicine from Pfizer more expensive than getting weed from your neighborhood Nino Brown. Most recently, Dubya's "War on Terror" has only led to a universally-uncontested removal of our civil liberties and an expansion of the very terrorism we claim to be fighting.

The process for creating these wars is simple. To start, an enemy has to be established. But it can’t just be any simple enemy. It has to be an enemy that is undeniably harmful. Islamic fundamentalists easily fit into this equation, but it can be virtually anything we consider threatening. From there, a description must be made about enemy in the worst case scenario. This will undoubtedly cause the general public to be scared out their wits. From there, launching a campaign against that threat will be sure to gain support, even if our way of life is compromised in the process. And don't think of going against that agenda. If you're brave enough to oppose the steps done to combat these issues (at least according to the Prez ), you’re with that enemy.

The unfortunate consequence of allowing these "wars" to materialize is that we fail to realize just how flawed they are. Rather than sending them back to manufacturer as defective items, we casually sit back and watch them fail; especially if they appear to be successful once in a while. Sure, the "War on Drugs" may have brought down a big-time kingpins like Frank Lucas. But "illegal" drugs are cheaper, stronger, and much easier to come by now than ever before. Poverty rates may have initially declined during FDR’s tenure, but rising costs, inflation, the ongoing mortgage crisis, outsourcing, and shifty labor markets continue to create a neo-generational age of poverty. The War on Terror has done nothing but give the feds the ability to arrest and detain without probable cause, deny Constitutional liberties, keep us from taking hand lotion on an airplane, and use "excessive interrogation techniques" on suspect. None of which, I should note, have made us any of us safer. Now, even when Flint's gang bust was successful (depending on how you define "successful"), it will most likely add to a growing incarceration rate without also addressing the core problems of why people join gangs and commit crimes in the first place.

Oh, eff it. I think I’m going to start my own "War on Fear" campaign. It should be a real doozy. Do I have any takers?


8 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

ajbendaƱa said...

The most powerful tool in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed - Stephen Biko (murdered South African activist)

The elementary principle of all deception is to attract the enemy’s attention to what you wish him to see & to distract his attention from what you so not wish him to see - General Sir Archibald Wavel

What a great advantage for leaders that the people do not think - Adolf Hitler

some fitting quotes IMO.

Collectively as a society, we deserve what we are getting for not caring to read between the lines. Thats the sad truth and It sucks.

"But what can one person do?" I am sure we have heard that from many people. Its alot easier to ignore the ugly side of life and try to make it all peachy than to face the truth. It reminds me of that scene in the matrix where the traitor (Cypher) is having dinner with the Agent Smith (The Guy that calls Neo Mr. Anderson)
He has experienced the real reality in the movie. The good side and the bad, but he doesn't want to deal with the bad. In the movie he says

"You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

ajbendaƱa said...

Sadly most of society seems agrees with him.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
Excellent piece. I couldn't agree more on your point that these "wars" only result in the loss of more and more personal liberties. Is it really worth catching a few pot smokers (War on Drugs)if the police can rummage through anyone's car based only on that they thought they smelled weed? Since there is no way to tell if the officer actually "smelled" anything, how is that any different than telling him he can search any car for any reason? The sanctity of your home, possessions, personal effects, and even your medical records, computer, saliva or blood are all available to the government based on a very lose definition of "reasonable suspicion" and I believe it's time we informed our government that it is we the people that should be demanding.

@ Ajendana-Great quotes! Here's a couple of my favorites

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." Thomas Jefferson

"Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." Bernard Shaw

KC said...

I guess my issue has always been the rhetoric used. Why do politicians need to dramaticize everything. Oh no! A War on (fill in the blank)!!! Don't they know that other campaigns have been successful WITHOUT making them so dramatic?!

HeiressChild said...

war on fear sounds like a winner. in the metropolitan area here the police dept has created a task force that deals specifically with gangs. it's really made a difference in the last year or two. it doesn't mean the gangs are all gone, but crime has diminished because of the task force.

HeiressChild said...

hi Andre, i want to wish you a safe, blessed, and Merry Christmas!

Greeneyes said...

Andre ,
My Greeneyed handsome King .
I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to you and yours , may it be blessed with Happiness good health and may you all Be blessed by God and kept safe the whole new year through.

Take care in that BIG city and take time to enjoy the season
Merry Christmas Gorgeous .


The H.C. said...

Have a happy and joyous holiday my friend! I'll see you next year!