In warning a sympathetic Washington, D. C. audience of the “fearmongering” of the Bush Administration, a Brooklyn College professor conjured up some demons of his own.
According to Corey Robin, a professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and author of Fear: The History of a Political Idea, the Bush Administration is “governing through fear…to significantly reorganize the power structure” in America. In his speech at the New America Foundation, Robin attacked the Administration and “right-wing” talk radio for their use of trepidation in politics. This fear is an “exemplary instrument of repression, and nowhere is it more evident than in contemporary America.”
Robin argued that “before 9/11, we lived in Eden.” But now “fear is the dominant, perhaps the only language of public life today.” Similar to angry statements from an outspoken Al Gore who charged the President (pictured)with “playing on our fears,” the professor accuses the Bush Administration of using and manipulating fear in order to gain and to maintain power. He further accuses the President of “translating a fear of terrorism into coercive power.” Robin fails in his attempt to paint Bush as a fear monger, but succeeds through his own foreboding rhetoric to incite fear of the powerful political ruling class.
When asked in an interview by Robert Kolker about the reality of terrorist attacks, Robin replied, “The question is how do we interpret the threats? We’ve made ourselves so stupid interpreting Islamic fundamentalism…those who piloted the planes were not people with personal psychological concerns but people who hate American policy.”
Mr. Robin also attacked the “cesspool of rightwing talk-radio.” He argued that conservative hosts “intimidate” and “attack” their left-leaning guests, inciting fear in them and making them weary of appearing on conservative talk-radio programs.
Contrary to Professor Robin’s assertions, we can track brutal fundamentalist hostility towards America at least back to 1979 when Iranian terrorists attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 hostages captive for 444 days. This attack paralyzed a Presidency.
A few years later, in April of 1983 a car bomb rocked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. Not six months later another car bomb rammed through the main gate of the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut, exploded and killed 241 American soldiers. In December of that same year another truck loaded with explosives was used to attack the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. Months later the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was attacked again.
The terrorism would soon spread to Europe as a bomb exploded inside a restaurant frequented by American soldiers in Spain. In August of 1985 another car bomb killed 22 after ramming through the main gate of the U.S. Air Force Base at Rhein-Main.
Terrorist attacks soon shifted towards the civilian airline industry, a place where they could kill people and affect our nation economically. In April of 1986 terrorists killed 4 people as they bombed TWA flight 840 and then in 1988, they killed 259 people aboard Pan Am flight 103.
n 1993 the terrorists brought the fight to the American homeland as they shot and killed two CIA agents as they entered CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Then, in February, terrorists attempted unsuccessfully to blow up the World Trade Center with a bomb that exploded in the underground parking garage killing 6 people and wounding over 1,000.
In 1995 and 1996 truck bombs in Saudi Arabia killed 26 and injured over 500 as a U.S. military complex in Riyadh and the Khobar Towers military barracks in Dhahran were targeted. A short time later Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked simultaneously; 224 people were killed, and over 4,500 were injured.
On October 12, 2000, the USS Cole was docked for refueling in the port of Aden, Yemen. A small boat pulled along side the ship and exploded, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors. All of this is not even to mention the attacks of domestic terrorists such as the attack on April 19, 1995 with the tragic bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people.
Prior to September 11th we lived in anything but “Eden,” although Professor Robin would have us believe that we did. What we lived in was a state of war with fundamentalist terrorism; it sadly took the deaths of 3,000 Americans (all at once) and the destruction of a national symbol of freedom and enterprise to realize it.
A recent graduate of Brigham Young University, Abraham Taylor is an intern at Accuracy in Media