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BLOG(Andre Clement): The Politics of Fear

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The Politics of Fear

by Andrew Clement

In the past months the media have been reporting on our Prime Minister’s repeated warnings about terrorism - threats both home grown and from outside our own borders.  According to Mr. Harper, we are targeted by the Jihadists and others. This fear mongering brings us back to the 'Axis of Evil’ as previously coined by that intellectual giant, George W. Bush.

Mr. Harper says these threats are real and there is an urgent need for greater security. By association with this big neighbour, we visualize individuals carrying out similar acts of violence in Canada.

But the fear of terrorism finds its real roots in the US preoccupation with dominance and control in international theatres of war.  The US has intervened in such places time and again, with little understanding of local conditions and no plans beyond military force.

It has happened in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Vietnam and Cambodia.  It is happening now in Syria.  Yet military experts know full well that expected results are rarely achieved with military intrusions.  The many international transgressions of the US and its allies have consistently resulted in massive destruction, loss of life, torture, and political/cultural embroilment.  The Middle East interventions in particular have only increased the danger to US citizens and, now, this may be shifting to Canadians as well.

Mr. Harper's war on terror in Syria lacks the 'moral clarity' he claims.  Canada is collaborating with war criminals, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers, and deadly fanatics, who rule Syria, Iran, and some of our allies.  Accusing ISIS of genocide while collaborating with war criminals ourselves is foolish, delusional, or simply dishonest.

And we are still left to understand how intervention in Syria will keep a single Canadian safer, particularly since ISIS is also in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  Will we intervene in those countries, too?

Mr. Harper's fear campaign lacks a moral compass, but works very effectively to distract Canadians from the real issues of the day.  Best to fear the 'terrorists' out there than to worry about the critical problems currently facing us.

The Prime Minister has given us Bill C-51 with all the flaws related to the lack of oversight, needless empowerment of police services, and virtual guarantees of civil rights abuses.  Ramping up the fear, Mr. Harper says the bill is needed to combat terrorism and especially the terrorists within.

But there is a problem here.  There is no international consensus on the definition of terrorism.  The term is both emotionally and politically charged.  A comprehensive definition, that might be all inclusive, lacks the precision necessary to permit the prosecution of criminal activities without at the same time condemning acts that should be legitimate.

What actually constitutes a terrorist act is debatable.  But the end result - fear – is a common denominator.

Fear is a great engine.  As one of our strongest primordial emotions, fear is an instantaneous reaction triggered by symbols and concepts that need not be linked by reason.  The US employs fear to validate the lies that justify its wars.  Say what you will, fear works.  And Mr. Harper knows this.

His is an entirely contrived campaign of fear.  What we are not told, what is in fact hidden from us, is that the police are working effectively with the powers they presently have - without Bill C-51. If they need more resources, fund them accordingly, but do not infringer upon our civil liberties.

Which is not to say there is nothing to fear.  I fear secretive governing, our ineffectual democracy, the abuses of power, and the elimination of our civil rights.  I fear the privatization of our national health services, the destruction of our environment, the depletion of global water supplies, the spill and eruption of toxic materials, and hunger of the poor in Canada.

These are real issues to fear.  And they are of Mr. Harper's doing.  If the purpose of terrorism is to generate fear, who then, is the real terrorist?

Andre Clement is active with the Sudbury chapter of the Council of Canadians.

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