♯♬ Dum Dum Deedle Deedle Dum Dum…
Dum Dum Deedle Deedle Dum Dum ♬♩
♬There was a turtle by the name of Bert;
And Bert the Turtle was very alert ♬
♩When danger threatened him he never got hurt …
He knew just what to do …♬♩
♬♩ He’d duck and cover, duck and cover… ♬
I’m figuring there are at least 3 of you out there who are old enough to want to strangle me for posting those lyrics…
Sorry about that, it’s my obstinate nature; I didn’t want to be the only one with a “Bert the Turtle”: sing along going on in the back of my head for the rest of the day. (If you have no clue of what I speak – double click here)
Such a catchy little ditty – designed to instill fear in our hearts at an early age. It is all part of the Politics of Fear… a favorite of the most vile of dictators and the most benevolent of democracies alike.
Reagan used it just as much as Stalin did… just in completely different ways and with different purposes. Stalin used the politics of fear to terrorize his people into submission; Ronald Reagan used the same principles, but to unify and sway the public into supporting his programs via the democratic process.
I was introduced to Bert the Turtle on my first day of Kindergarten at Barbers Point NAS Elementary School, and he scared the living crap out of me.
By the late 60’s every kid in my neighborhood had a secret – there was a Bomb shelter in their house. Everyone had one, but you weren’t ever supposed to tell your friends.
When the flash came, there wasn’t going to be enough room for everyone and if they knew you had a shelter they would try to get in.
We were taking precautions as a nation – every McDonalds built in the 60’s had a secret room – a Bomb Shelter that was only to be revealed in case of attack. Civil Defense workers knew about them but not the McDonalds employees.
Most major stores had secret bomb shelters. Public shelters were marked and we were taught to always know where the nearest “Fall Out shelter” was.
Two decades later when my wife was in grammar school they had long forgone the illusion of survivability and were focused on retaliation as the deterrent – She still talks about not expecting to live long enough to graduate.
The Ayatollahs took their place at the top of the list in about 78 and are still a giant threat – they’re just not as kool as a Caliphate since they quit hanging westerners in Vanak Square.
In the late 80’s it was the Ruskies and that lunatic in Libya who struck fear in our hearts.
It should be no surprise that we, as adults, accept fear as a legitimate incentive… fear is what was used to control us as children. Simple phrases like: “Just wait till your Father gets home…” and “Yer gonna grow hair on yer palms!!!” kept most of us in line through our youth
As a nation, the politics of fear cycles. We go a decade or so all worked up over the newest threat, then usually have a period of complete complacency followed by the realization that we were overly complacent, which leads to the next decade of fear.
Fear is, however, a legitimate tool of governance. It can be a simple matter of dissemination of pertinent information on a political timeline. Ultimately used to protect and benefit the people, the chronology and means of cultivating that fear is an art the propagandist hones to a razor’s edge.
During the pinnacle of the AIDS epidemic Health depts. ran ads that showed the effects AIDS with extremely vivid images; it scared most of the public into using Condoms.
We did something similar in the 80’s with the Red Scare. It was a legitimate threat and the public was bombarded with images and editorials that left no question that the Soviets were “BAD”, and that they had no choice but to attack the US sometime soon.
It eventually swayed the legislature, via the public, to fund several Defense programs and gave the economy an infusion of growth. Reagan used the politics of fear to achieve a positive result.
I hear younger voices talk about how scary things are in the world today. Terrorists, Caliphates, Nigerian Psychopaths, a whacko Korean Dictator with Nukes, and the New Soviet threat from within all add up to an atmosphere of fear – but it isn’t anything new.
As Americans, we are historically accustomed to living with a twinge of fear, and there is nothing wrong with it. It keeps us on our toes as a nation and gives us an edge when it comes to international affairs.
The problem is we are no longer accustomed to it and have become too soft to deal with it properly. Consider that we’ve just come out of a period of extreme complacency at the highest level, add that to the speed that inaccurate and false news travels since the advent social media and there is a tendency to believe nonsense and over react.
In the 60’s US diplomats and their families were being threatened by just about every Soviet funded terrorist group across the globe.
The Berlin wall was just wire, the Soviets were trying to put Nukes as close to our shores as possible. Mao was pummeling one of the free Chinese Islands (part of Taiwan) with propaganda shells on a daily basis.
The rattling of Sabers could be heard at all four corners of the globe, especially if you were an Ex-pat. There was an atmosphere of fear and justified paranoia that covered us like a thick mist.
We used to do dependent evacuation drills every few months. It was a hoot for us kids. The Marines would round up all the Embassy families and usually transport us to the MAAG theater to wait out the threat. Sometimes we would get on busses and head to the Port in Naples, for evac by ship – that’s how we got from continent to continent at the time – by Passenger liner.
Evac drills were usually just a few hours of Disney movies and all the popcorn you could eat until the drill was over.
I can remember one drill where it was different though, it was when I was about 10 or 11, for some reason the Marines were acting much more serious than on normal evac drills and my sister and I began to get scared.
Dependent security was run by a “superhero”, I knew as Gunny Jim.
As I look back; I’m pretty sure Gunny Jim wasn’t actually 12 feet tall and he might not have actually been able leap tall buildings in a single bound but… when this, scared to death, little boy looked around the theater and I saw Gunny Jim and his men forming a protective perimeter around us, I calmed.
I realized, to hurt us… they had to go through them.
It turned out to just be another drill but I came to the epiphany of just who WE were, as Americans… and just who it was, who was standing in the Gap to protect us.
Don’t let your fears turn you stupid. – KNIHT!
Be vigilant, be observant and use common sense; but… Unless you can hear that tell-tale hiss or you see Fish-heads inside the wire; step back, and take a breath … Things are very likely not quite as dire as you have convinced yourself.
Try to remember just who in the hell you are as an American, and why the founders chose E Pluribus Unum as our national motto.
Then try to remember just who they have to get past to get to you.