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Last night, I was watching a show on the International History Channel about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It is likely that the world has never been closer to nuclear war than at that point in history.

One of the things I found particularly interesting were the commercials the government continually broadcast about what to do in the event of a nuclear explosion. These played on the radio and the television and were geared toward many different audiences. Here are brief descriptions of some of the ads shown last night:

The first is geared toward children, with a cartoon turtle walking on his hind legs past a tree. A monkey is dangling from the tree with a stick of dynamite hanging from a stick. The turtle is singing a cute little jingle about how he knows what to do--take cover and hide--if there's a nuclear explosion. The dynamite explodes, the turtle disappears into his shell, and the tree is now empty and blackened with broken branches.
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The next commercial is geared toward families. A happy Leave it to Beaver-type family is having a picnic on a blanket. The father is cooking hot dogs on a fire (in a suit, no less!) Everyone is laughing and talking, when suddenly there's a flash of white and the family quickly dives under their little picnic blanket. The whole time there is a cheerful jingle about remembering to "duck and cover."
__________________________________

The third commercial is for older kids. It features a high-school-aged girl walking on the street when the air raid sirens go off. She is looking for signs pointing to the nearest fallout shelter and the commercial advises kids to "ask an older adult" for help.

My boyfriend's mother remembers the frequent drills they had in school about "ducking and covering" in the event of nuclear war, and ordinary families spent thousands of dollars building heavily promoted fallout shelters.

And who were the enemies advertised as the ones likely to cause this destruction? The communists, of course.

Although decades have passed and the Cold War has ended (or had ended), many recall McCarthyism and the fearful propaganda of that era. I suspect that, in some fashion, the fear borne then persists today and certainly the hostility toward communism remains.

How often do you hear Freeper types attack their opponents with "COMMIE!"

But they are not really talking about communism; few then understood communism, and it is likely that even fewer now understand what communism really is. In fact, today people often confuse it with socialism.

What they really mean when they scream "Commie" is "I am afraid!"

With communism less of a threat these days and generations who did not grow up steeped in that fear-generating propaganda, Republicans, the Bush administration, and the McCain campaign had to find a new word, and the one they settled on was "terrorist." All their enemies--even political ones--are now "terrorists."

Nowhere was it more clear what they were trying to do than the Republican National Convention, when they used the footage of the planes hitting the World Trade Center and people jumping out the windows as a backdrop to launch John McCain's campaign.

That is why the rhetoric they continue to push against Obama with terms like "domestic terrorist" (McCain used it again this weekend) remains so dangerous. The loathing, anger, and fear that word gins up is not unlike the reaction people had to "Communist!" in the 50s and 60s (and some people still cling to) after being programmed to feel that way.

If these people really understood communism and socialism, they would not be spitting the words out like a curse. They are simply political philosophies worth discussing but not the equivalent of satanism, which is how these people treat them. Atrocious things have been done in the name of communism, but atrocious things have also been done in the name of democracy (in our country's history), and yet Americans have not turned against its ideals.

Terrorism is obviously a different beast, but it, too, deserves to be examined and discussed. Frankly, I even get disappointed when I hear Barack Obama say that the central front in the war on terrorism is Afghanistan.

For once, I would like to hear our political leaders acknowledge the truth: There is no geographical place that serves as the central front in the war on terrorism. It is an ideology borne of many different experiences, and it cannot be defeated with bombs and guns, just as communism was not defeated with nuclear weapons.

The only way to defuse these terms so that they lose the power to instill uncontrollable fear in people and provoke such virulent responses just by uttering the word alone is to understand them.

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in my future, because--as was the case with communism during McCarthyism--trying to understand the roots of terrorism is equated with sympathizing with terrorism. And nobody wants to be depicted as a terrorist sympathizer.

This attitude is one reason Obama has been attacked--even by some on our side--for wanting to sit down with "terrorist" leaders and open dialogue. Obama's approach is the only one that ever has any chance of producing positive results, as Reagan realized when he engaged in dialogue with Mikhail Gorbachev. Sadly, too many Americans feel as Trent Lott expressed: bomb them all and let God sort them out in the end.

Originally posted to CatM on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:41 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  well, if the hate mail I get is any indication... (9+ / 0-)

    ... "liberals" are both commies and terrorists.


    And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too / I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

    by Page van der Linden on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:48:14 PM PDT

  •  Like "socialist", just another word (6+ / 0-)

    divorced from meaning that people toss around as an insult.

  •  As a historical sidenote, (7+ / 0-)

    the "kill them all and let God sort them out" is actually attributed to Armand Amaury, the papal legate in the Albigensian crusade (against the Cathars) - "tuez-les tous, Dieu reconnaîtra les siens."

    And the "scary terrorists" tactic is age-old. There is nothing than an enemy to drum up popular support, especially a faceless, ethereal enemy, who has sleeper agents lurking amongst the common folk.

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:50:43 PM PDT

  •  someone should ask the right wing crazies (7+ / 0-)

    if Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist?  Maybe we should ask McCain's good friend G. Gordon Liddy (convicted domestic terrorist himself) if McVeigh was a terrorist.  After all Liddy exhorted his listeners to shoot Federal Agents on sight

    •  The MSM should ask McCain about his support (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kaolin, Yasuragi

      for the Contra terrorist group, and his foreign policy advisors' advocacy of the MEK & PJAK groups against Iran.  McCain really does have a problem in this area, but no one is questioning him about it.

      Plain/McCain - thanks, but no thanks.

      by skrekk on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:33:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lou Dobbs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keirdubois, el dorado gal, Yasuragi

    is totally incapable of saying Cuba or China without attaching Communist..he must have spent time under his desk is all I can figure the way he spits the word out.

    The US just took North Korea of its axis of evil list yet continues the embargo against Cuba..I can only shake my head..because I do remember hearing that millions of people were being starved in North Korea..including Christians..and that is not the case in Cuba.

    So yes, its all about fear.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:54:04 PM PDT

    •  No, It's All About Money. (0+ / 0-)

      We'd be fine with Castro if he hadn't chased all the American corporations out of Cuba...and refused to let them back in.  

      Meanwhile, those awful Chinese communists are great guys now that they'll manufacture our good at cut rates and loan us all the money we want to borrow.

  •  And before commie it was anarchist..... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CatM, bustacap, houyhnhnm, carver, Yasuragi

    there is always a convenient label to demonize progressives.

    Obama--A Bridge to Somewhere

    by venezia on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:57:45 PM PDT

  •  I too remember those drills. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CatM, shock, Yasuragi

    Societies have always used labels to create division and the power class wields them to keep "those people" in their place.  The labels have changed over the centuries, but not the motivations behind them.

    Hey, Nine-House McCain, I lost my house, can I have one of yours? Like HRC says, not a moment to waste, not a vote to spare.

    by RoCali on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 02:59:27 PM PDT

  •  We scare the shit out of the lowlifes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin

    so we "terrorize" them .
    Keep up the good work !

    "I don;t need to , because I don't give a shit who YOU are" MAORCA ***mean people suck***

    by indycam on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:03:45 PM PDT

  •  The terms socialism, communism and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin

    ...capitalism describe economic systems; the political, ideological context in which those systems are inacted confuse the issue entirely. Capitalism, "common wisdom" tells us is a good thing, without considering that capitalism within the context of a political system that embraces a Fascist ideology ...ummm ..not so good.
    Nor do the Swedish people qualify as an oppressed people under their "yoke" of socialism.

    Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what's right...... Isaac Asimov ---- {-8.25 / -5.64}

    by carver on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:08:05 PM PDT

    •  Sometimes it is frustrating (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi

      to have to defend every word choice; I see your point but there are many books that describe communism and socialism as political ideologies so I'm just going to stick with my terminology.

      •  Of course you are correct. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kaolin, Yasuragi

        But when it comes down to the raw essence of it all, it is how wealth is distributed within society (economic) and who makes the decision on how the distribution is made (political).

        Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what's right...... Isaac Asimov ---- {-8.25 / -5.64}

        by carver on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:51:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "terrorist" is the new "jew" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi

    We're putting them in concentration camps and torturing them to death. As far as I know we never did that to commies.

    "F*ck this f*ckin' party, man. This f*ckin' party's f*cked." E. Bogosian

    by ZAP210 on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:19:00 PM PDT

    •  Well we did kill a lot of them (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, Yasuragi

      in wars.

    •  Just hounded them out of their jobs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bustacap, Yasuragi

      and out of the country. Oh.  And a few were put in jail. too.

      Ring Lardner, Jr.
      Albert Maltz
      Dalton Trumbo
      Samuel Ornitz
      John Howard Lawson
      Herbert J. Biberman
      Adrian Scott
      Lester Cole
      Alvah Bessie
      Howard Fast
      Clinton Jencks

      And let's not forget the Rosenbergs.  They were electrocuted.

      Greatest the blame, least the shame

      by houyhnhnm on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 03:29:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for listing these heroes of the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm

        McCarthy era.  

        I grew up in the aftermath of Tailgunner Joe, with my family scarred for life.

        And I had nuclear nightmares as a kid after being told that hiding under my desk would keep me safe from a nuclear blast.

        Miserable times.

        That's the promise of America... the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper. -- Barack Obama

        by Yasuragi on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 11:55:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Grew Up on SAC bases... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yasuragi

          ...all during the Cold War. I felt safer listening to the B-52s rev on the flight line, a feeling I do not disavow now. It meant that people were out there in the night trying to keep me safe.

          The nuclear missles were an entirely different thing. I remember the Cuban Missle Crisis...everyone sitting in front of their TV, wondering if Kruschev would cave and turn the ships around, or keep coming. And if he kept coming, what the hell would happen?  And that fact that Mom and Dad were very tense scared kids more than anything.

          Scary stuff. But no scarier than what American kids went through in WWII, and nothing compared to what people endured in Europe the Middle East and Asia during that war.  

  •  I remember those duck and cover drills (0+ / 0-)

    when, as Lewis Black pointed out, we'd get under kindling for protection from a fire ball.

    Actually I think I've heard "commie terrorist" being used ... kill two birds with one stone

    PROTECT YOUR VOTE - learn how and tell friends & family http://www.stealbackyourvote.com and http://wakeupandsaveyourcountry.com/

    by Clytemnestra on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 09:31:37 PM PDT

    •  Ah, but at the time... (0+ / 0-)

      ....everyone would have sworn that "duck and cover" would save you!

      The big lie is easier to believe than the small lie. I think it was Hitler,that genius of propaganda, who said that.

      I think that one reason so many intelligent people in Congress voted for the Iraq war is that it just never occurred to them that a President of the United States would deliberately--deliberately!--tell bald-faced lies to force this country into war.

      •  No not to everyone. It didn't make sense to me (0+ / 0-)

        when Lewis Black gave voice to that I was glad to she/hear that I wasn't alone.

        I also couldn't understand that when the shock waves came how we, under our desks with no side protection, could survive the flying shards of glass.

        It never made sense to me.

        So when in senior high I saw the old black and white 50's "adult" how to survive a nuclear strike in JROTC no less (took it to get out of gym) -  and they said "once you're inside the outer room of the fall out shelter shake the fall out from your coat. Leave it on the hook and proceed to the inner chambers. . . *"

        I had a hard time keeping from busting a gut

        *= not eact wording but that's the jist

        PROTECT YOUR VOTE - learn how and tell friends & family http://www.stealbackyourvote.com and http://wakeupandsaveyourcountry.com/

        by Clytemnestra on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 05:22:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  viewed many times and posted here before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YellerDog, Yasuragi

    This YouTube shows the two generations co-mingling.

    McAin't/Pale-in comparison to Obama/Biden

    by ssentamu on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 10:12:37 PM PDT

  •  We always create The Other to contain our shadow. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keirdubois, kaolin, Yasuragi

    Individually and collectively we always create "the other" to contain that which is our shadow, (our worst instincts), it's what Jung called the collective subconscious.  You will notice that they tend to end with an "ism".  Communism, Fascism, Terrorism, Patriotism and yes Capitalism. Beware words that end with ism.  They are generally bombs primed to go off on somebody's head.    

    "Vote Your Hopes Not Your Fears."

    by YellerDog on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 10:27:18 PM PDT

  •  ...is the new "Injun" is the new "Negro"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi

    ...is the new "Irish" is the new "Jew" is the new "Jap" is the new "Mexican" is the new...

    We have been taught to fear ever since Jamestown.

  •  The recent hate-speech at the Palin rallies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin, Yasuragi

    made me realize... there are some labels that declare the subject to be beyond the protection of the law.

    Whether it's "commie" or "terrorist" or "queer" or "nigger", the implication is that that these people may be assailed with any sort of violence at the hands of the government or a lynch mod... without legal consequences.

    And those who speak in their defense - or simply to counsel tolerance - are branded as "commie-lovers" and "terrorist sympathizers". And all patriotic citizens have a free pass to subject them to a lesser degree of abuse and intimidation.

    We have to call this kind of lynch-mob mentality what it is: prejudiced, illegal, murderous, un-democratic, and un-American. Let's put it's practitioners to shame - quickly.

    BushCheney Inc. - They lied to me, they lied to you, they lied to our troops.

    by jjohnjj on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 11:52:02 PM PDT

  •  I Wrote A Diary About a Possible Upcoming Smear (0+ / 0-)

    ...and got fire bombed by a bunch of Kossacks who think that no one will believe such ugly, ugly slime and how dare I bring it up?

    Well, I was one of those kids who was taught to "duck and cover." I went to a school that had a basement full of yellow water barrels. I saw the infamous "Daisy Girl" commercial...that ran once.

    Once. And many historians say that one viewing went a long way towards costing Barry Goldwater the presidency by implying that Goldwater was rash enough to push that infamous red button.  

    Propaganda is never logical. It's designed to appeal, as you realized, to emotion, especially fear of the "other." "Communist" was the push-button word, then, but sadly, we have so many more now, labels such as "Queer" or "illegal immigrant" or "welfare queen." Accusations laced with words such as "pedophile" or "terrorist" or, God help us, "liberal." Any label that might have even the tiniest grain of innocent truth in it--Barack Obama has met William Ayers, his father was a Muslim--can be twisted and amplified into terrifying ugliness.

    We must fight these smears with truth. Not by ignoring them. And not by sneering at and dismissing the fears of those who might believe them, especially when those who might believe them VOTE.  

  •  Bomb Them All (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaolin

    I had one guy down here in Texas tell me that, speaking of our hot spots in the Middle East,  we should just "nuke 'em. Kill them all."

    "I didn't know you were a terrorist."

    "Huh?!"

    "Isn't a terrorist someone who doesn't care how many innocent people die as long as his enemies die? You're willing to kill millions of people who have done you no harm in order to kill a few thousand who might. So you're a terrorist."

    I left him blinking while he tried to reason that one out.

  •  Amen to this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    For once, I would like to hear our political leaders acknowledge the truth: There is no geographical place that serves as the central front in the war on terrorism. It is an ideology borne of many different experiences, and it cannot be defeated with bombs and guns, just as communism was not defeated with nuclear weapons.

    The only way to defuse these terms so that they lose the power to instill uncontrollable fear in people and provoke such virulent responses just by uttering the word alone is to understand them.

    Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in my future, because--as was the case with communism during McCarthyism--trying to understand the roots of terrorism is equated with sympathizing with terrorism. And nobody wants to be depicted as a terrorist sympathizer.

    Why doesn't any of our elected officials get it?

  •  Terrorism is NOT an ideology... (0+ / 0-)

    ...it is a tactic.  And it's a tactic generally used by the powerful against the weak (Shock 'n' Awe, anyone?)

    •  No kidding (0+ / 0-)

      Obviously terrorism is technically a tactic, but when people here refer to "terrorist" or "terrorism," they are in fact referring to an ideology that includes "hating America and our freedoms."

      Thus in many peoples minds it has graduated to an ideology, which is why anyone "associated" with someone who has committed a terrorist act against America (my guess is they don't include abortion doctors in this) is also a terrorist--aka McCarthyism.

      If it were considered just a tactic, you couldn't have a central front on it at all could you?

      •  Okay, sure. (0+ / 0-)

        And what is the benefit when progressives and Leftists do this ("There is no geographical place that serves as the central front in the war on terrorism. It is an ideology borne of many different experiences...")?

        Terrorism as an anti-American ideology is a delusion of the Right, and it's the job of the "reality-based community" to correct these kinds of faulty assumptions, not buy into them.  Wasn't there a whole big thing about calling them "Islamic extremists" rather than terrorists?

        •  The benefit (0+ / 0-)

          is pointing out that what people commonly consider "terrorism" in this country is actually an ideology borne of different experiences. I did not say that ideology should be called terrorism.

          Stop getting so f-ing hung up on semantics.

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