Bush uses language of fear as political tactic


It has been four-and-a-half years since the 9/11 attacks, and it is certainly hard to believe; both the fact that they happened and that it’s been so long. It feels like the attacks were yesterday-or, maybe it just seems that way because George W. Bush takes every opportunity to remind us all that it happened. His constant remembrance of the attacks is not heartfelt, however, and he doesn’t even try to make his use of the memory sincere or anything less than a political tactic.

This really only became apparent in the 2004 election, and has since been blatantly obvious. I have to marvel at the sheer stupidity of his smarmy reminders of the attacks as well. Why does he bring them up so often when it was under his watch that they occurred?

I know it’s Bush, and to him such obliviousness is second nature, but doesn’t he have advisers to remind him of what to say? Whenever he mentions his hard work on 9/11, I ask aloud, “Oh, is that what came after you ignored the initial memo in August, or after you froze for several minutes in a classroom after hearing news of the attacks?” But evidence of his own incompetence does not deter Bush; nor, I am sure, does he even realize the damage he is doing to his reputation when he mentions the attacks during speeches. His motivation for using the reminders of 9/11 is purely a political scare tactic.

Bush seemingly has an arsenal of tools to scare the American public into submission. There’s the Rainbow of Terror (a nickname a professor of mine gave to the Terror Alert System), which will spring to orange or the severe-damage-control red, even when there is no public knowledge of any upcoming threat of attack. Former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge revealed last year that he was often pressured to raise the terror alert, a decision based only on vague, practically non-existent evidence-except for, of course, low approval ratings for Bush that had to be raised in some way. Ridge told the media in 2005, “There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, ‘For that?'”

Of course, the language Bush uses to scare Americans is not at all limited to his mentions of 9/11; rather, he uses “Saddam Hussein,” “terror,” and “al-Qaida” as if he cannot think of anything else to say, which could very well be the case. Of course, mentions of Osama bin Laden, who actually orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, are few and far between. Since we haven’t caught him, Dick Cheney ‘ Shameless Co. have no doubt decided it’s best to keep his name out of the press.

Since Hussein has been captured and is on trial, however, Bush is free to use his name in every other sentence. That whole thing about how Hussein wasn’t even involved in 9/11 and had no connection to bin Laden is a tiny detail, of course, and isn’t even worthy of a brief mention; it’s just a small quibble, really.

What is far worse is that Americans are playing into the image that the Bush administration already has: that we are stupid and simplistically sincere enough to actually believe everything our president says at face value.

Information against lies and scare tactics used by Bush is our most powerful weapon. Without the correct knowledge, we are susceptible to half-truths and fake sincerity in political speeches. With accurate information, our lives won’t necessarily be any happier, but we will have power against the lies that we are fed daily.

Lauren Robeson can be reached at lauren.robeson.79@csun.edu.