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9/11 and fear

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).”


  1. Gene McCarraher wrote:

    Don’t wait for such an address from President YesWeCan. Part of his job description is to stoke some sort of fear. Otherwise, why prosecute the war crime in Afghanistan?

    Monday, September 13, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Sadly yes. Larison nails Obama on this in a recent piece.

    Monday, September 13, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  3. kim fabricius wrote:


    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  4. dan wrote:

    I once read a sermon by N. T. Wright wherein he makes the claim that “Do not be afraid/Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the B-I-B-L-E. Don’t see much commentary on that.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  5. That could be an awesome dissertation topic. I would love to see someone do that. I’d buy the book when if it were to get published.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 1:37 am | Permalink

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