Climate of Fear

Photo by Molly Adams | CC BY 2.0

In The Atlantic, November 1, 2007, Cornell West wrote that “Niggerization is the wholesale attempt to impede democratization – to turn potential citizens into intimidated, fearful and helpless subjects.” He went on to suggest that post 9/11, there had been a similar process inflicted on the wider American population. “Like the myopic white greed, fear, and hatred that fueled the niggerization of black people, right-wing fear, and hatred have made us all feel intimidated, fearful and helpless in the face of the terrorist attacks.” As the fear of imminent terrorist attacks has faded, we have found new ways to live in fear.

Now, we are the people of the gulf and of the islands who fear for every ripple on the water, every puff of wind, and every drop of rain. We are the people of the drought who fear for every day without moisture.  We are the people of the temperate lands who fear the extremes of heat and cold. We are the people of the tropics who fear the cold, and of the polar landscapes who fear the melting of the ice. We are the people of the burned lands who fear for every wisp of smoke. We are the people of the debris flows who fear for every rivulet and rill. We are the people of the flood lands who fear for every rise in the water; we are the people of the tide who fear its every incoming, and we are the people of the storm who fear its every surge.

But these new fears are not necessarily debilitating – they can also…

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