Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight with a bomb he got in Yemen, did not blow up the airliner. The airliner did not blow up.
Yet, driven by the false equivalence of the mainstream media and the political hucksterism of the right-wing media, here we go again into another War On Terror alert.
There are two threats here. One comes from America. For every innocent killed during 9-11, we have already murdered more than 100. Iraq had nothing to do with it, yet we let Blackwater take over the country and kill anyone they wanted, even rape American women, and no Republican has yet called them out on it. (They just get huffy when someone else does.)
This is the crap Al Qaeda recruits on. It's not about the Internet. It's about the murders. And the Republican answer? More murders. Which means more recruitment, more terrorists. Stop the killing over there and the problem will go away.
The second threat is our media. Republicans made hay for a generation on the myth of the "liberal media," something that was already a canard when the charge was made, and which became an excuse for applying a political litmus test on the profession. Now the shoe is partly on the other foot -- there is nothing "fair" or "balanced" about any Rupert Murdoch outlet -- but the problem goes deeper than that.
I can illustrate it with an example. Is gravity real? The reporter asks the question, and finds one person who will say it's not, at which point it becomes an open question. Conservatives have learned to use this laziness to create hosts of false controversies over the last year, destroying good people and good ideas because reporters are afraid to call a lie a lie.
Death panels are a lie. Obama's Kenyan roots are a lie. The tea party's charges are lies.
When large political movements are built on lies, reporters do not have a duty to give them equal time. They have a duty to call them out. They have a duty to call the liars liars, and to stop using them as sources, to exile them from their newsrooms. Instead these self-created assholes are called upon again-and-again.
It has gone on too long. We have reached a point where conservatives consider anyone who seeks the truth a liar, an ideologue, projecting all their own craziness on "the other," dehumanizing at will.
That's terrorism. That's people terrorizing themselves, and seeking to terrorize others. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but we still must fear it, we still must fear fear, and fight fear.
I'm not afraid. I refuse to let you scare me. That doesn't mean I'm not vigilant, that I'm naive, or that I have a "pre-9-11 mentality." It means I'm an American. And if you're not afraid, so are you. If you are, I no longer want anything to do with you.