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Terrorists Manipulate Fear as Indispensable Weapon by Aaron Barnes

Written By: Kenny S September 23, 2010 No Comment

When you exercise your many freedoms today, remember those who earned them for you. And more importantly, remember this: Anyone can be a terrorist. Any age, any race, any gender, any face, any dress, any motivation, any inclination.

The primary weapon used by terrorists is not an IED or rockets or rifles or rocks or grenades; they are not fighter jets or tanks or suicide bombers or underwear explosives. The weapon of terrorism is just that: terror.

Fear. Anxiety. They are crippling, and they rob you of joy.

When you harass someone, when you explicitly or implicitly state that someone doesn’t belong here, when you don’t do everything you can to make your neighbor feel safe in her own home, whenever you are a part of generating fear in another human being to control his or her behavior, you are a terrorist.

When you manipulate someone’s emotions, through action or inaction, when you bully a schoolmate or colleague or peer, when you use derogatory slang to lambast a group of people, when you, as a leader, use a position of authority to cow your followers, when you threaten to destroy a symbol of the soul and when you don’t immediately and vehemently protest any of these activities, you are participating in terrorism.

This goes for racists and dictators. This goes for Terry Jones out in Florida. This goes for Westboro Baptist Church. This goes for the man who beat my friend last week. This goes for the guy in the student center who thinks that it’s okay to yell “fag” across the room. This goes for my neighbor whose violently transphobic remarks make me too nervous to take my trash out at night. This goes for church leaders who think that it’s okay to dissolve a student group just because its leaders have some initiative, and that fact scares them. This goes for the guy on the bus, who plays his offensive music loudly and swears at anyone who asks him to turn it down. This goes for me. This goes for you.

I’ve heard it said that a “war on terrorism” is a dumb idea. When it comes to wasting the lives of soldiers and civilians and pouring buckets of money into arms and violence when we could be feeding, healing and curing people (and cleaning up our image as Americans), I agree (and I do think it’s silly to engage an enemy that is technically an abstract concept).

But, every war starts at home – defeat the enemy of terrorism in your own soul, and we’ll no longer need Sept. 11 to remind us of the consequences of failing to do so.

Aaron Barnes is senior cultural anthropology major and a global activist. He can be reached for comment or questions at mbarnes@smu.edu.

This article was originally posted here: http://www.smudailycampus.com/opinion/terrorists-manipulate-fear-as-indispensable-weapon-1.1598356.