Gil Anidjar has an excellent article up at the ABC Religion and Ethics page, which speaks well to the culture of fear that continues to be inculcated in America after 9/11. Well worth a read. Here’s a segment:
One thing the prophets, poets, and philosophers of old did not endlessly rehearse is, “Be afraid, be very afraid! There is danger everywhere. Remember what was done to you and how it has hurt and, above all, frightened you. Build onto yourself higher walls, therefore, make bigger bombs and better security gates, for your own exclusive care and protection. And make sure those immigration laws are tighter than what is inflicted on them bankers!”
It should be obvious that, though we can all-too easily be persuaded otherwise, we are not all vulnerable in the same manner. We are not exposed to the same risks and we do not all have the same life expectancy.
Those among us who are more privileged, more protected, as it were, may or may not have a choice in the emotional response we experience with regard to the state of the world. But it does seem like we might have some choice in what we embrace and condone by way of our collective behaviour, our politics.
On the anniversary of 9/11, therefore, I remember the schoolchildren who, over the course of the Cold War, were taught fear on their flesh by crouching under their desks. And I remember the role played by shoes today in the pedagogy of fear.
That is why I want to believe that the American president might address the nation and the “international community” with the following words:
“My fellow Americans, and fellow Westerners, do not be afraid. Verily, I say unto you: Do not fear the shoes of our neighbours. Do not fear them at airports first. Perhaps, you will learn not to fear them at the entrances of mosques. For the love of God, or that of the poor (the downtrodden), the widow (the refugee), and the orphan (the immigrant).”