As I struggle to understand the complex anatomy of the artificially induced fear in our society due to the incessant projection of Muslims as a people enslaved by a violent ideology and therefore a threat to our security, I am reminded of the relevant words of Yoda, the Jedi Master of Star Wars. In Episode 1 (The Phantom Menace) he warns: "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
Americans, and to some extent Canadians, have been frightened into believing there is an imminent terrorist threat from Islam (often reflected in media terms like "Islamic terrorist," Islamism" and "Islamist"). This has led to the current suffering of countless innocent Muslim men, women and children, not only in Palestine under occupation by the Zionist state of Israel — the longest, most violent, and most openly racist oppression in recent history – but also in Afghanistan and Iraq under the illegal and increasingly brutal American occupation. Falluja in Iraq, and Jenin and Rafah in Palestine, are just three cities and towns that have become the graveyard of human longings for peace, security, and freedom from oppression.
During an address to a joint session of Congress in September 2001, U.S. president George W. Bush said: "Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." And then he tied Islam directly to terrorism: "The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism –” a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill … all Americans … . "
By associating the words "Islamic terrorism" with the unknown attackers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and by not acknowledging that a political agenda is not the same thing as a belief system, Bush invoked the oldest and the strongest kind of human fear — fear of the unknown. Bush and the pro-Israel lobby continue to instill fear in the West by escalating unsubstantiated threats against them and fabricating a vast web of lies to justify their actions against Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and now Iran. At the same time, Canadians, Americans and Europeans have witnessed increasing government intrusion into their daily lives and the erosion of their basic rights and freedoms.
Given that we now have laws in North America that have pretty well taken away our fundamental rights of privacy, we should be afraid — afraid not only of the "guy next door," but of the people who are supposed to protect us from the guy next door! Given that there are very few things not to fear, we all seem to be suffering from, or are dangerously exposed to the "Fear Everything Anxiety Reaction" syndrome — known as FEAR for short.
Contracting FEAR is pretty simple nowadays. Remember when even the mention of Red, Yellow, and Orange alerts caused near panic? And when the level of threat was raised to Code Red, it sent people immediately into a rapidly rising FEAR response, asking: What does this mean? What are we supposed to do? Is this the day we die from a terrorist attack? Then the official alert level goes down a color or two, and people wonder: Should we relax? (But then, you never know, it might go back up!) Or, even though the danger level has decreased, it is still Yellow … Does that mean I should be afraid, but maybe a little less afraid than yesterday? And so the stressful rise and fall of FEAR goes on.
Another way to contract FEAR is to read up on national security expert Martin Rudner’s recent report in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, National Post, and Ottawa Citizen. Mr. Rudner believes that "Islamic terrorists" have embedded themselves in Canada’s Arab community, where they recruit and raise funds, which they use for operational activities against the United States and its allies.
Mr. Rudner goes on to say that "Saudi money is being used to extend its brand of militant Islam to Canada and fostering the spread of terrorism." In the absence of names and addresses of the masjids (mosques) that are allegedly "fostering the spread of terrorism," we Canadians react by developing FEAR toward Arabs and Muslims, even though Mr. Rudner has not yet provided any concrete evidence to support his grim hypothesis. Imagine what the reaction might be if you or I, or any one else, were to accuse another Canadian community of having "embedded" foreign agents in its midst. Out of FEAR I have chosen not to name the community.
Yet another way to induce FEAR is to publish articles written by media- supported Islamophobes, who fear even the mere presence of Muslims in North America and their enfranchisement into mainstream society. They spew hate against Islam and Muslims by repeating the same racist and bigoted statements over and over again: that Islam is violent, irrational and incompatible with democracy. Out of FEAR, I have chosen not to name the pro-Israeli Zionists, or the Israel-can- do-no-wrong gang, who promote fear of Islam and Muslims through propaganda, and by playing manipulative mind-games on unsuspecting, decent mainstream Canadian and Americans.
Ever since the tragic events of 9/11, their shrill rhetoric has clamored in the media about would-be terrorists hiding everywhere in "sleeper" groups, ready to strike without warning. This trend has created a very unstable and unsafe environment for Muslim communities because they are singled out as the "enemy within." This fear has brought greater suffering upon innocent Muslim citizens of both Europe and North America, as well as all those being maimed, killed, tortured, terrorized and humiliated throughout the world.
The Zionist zealots (neo-conservative Likud Party supporters who yoke Israel’s interests to those of America) and rightwing evangelical "millennial" or end-time Christians, both raise the spectre of "Islamic terrorism" as a force that threatens free people everywhere. They know that fear destroys reason, leaving the individual’s conscience in the hands of those who instill the fear. Similarly, Fascism and Zionism achieved their objectives through fear, resulting in the vast societal FEAR syndrome.
People who believe in peace with justice must do exactly the opposite of what the fear-mongers want. We must struggle in solidarity to promote more education, mutual knowledge, a "living together" based on universal values, on respect for life and diversity, for democracy, for freedom, and for justice. If not, then the prophetic warning of Yoda will come true: "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."