I think I'm seeing more people pick up on the phenomenon of often irrational fear the adminstration is engendering -- purposely in many cases but without much sense of the long-term consequences for the country -- among ordinary Americans in the wake of 9/11. Of course it's a fertile field; Americans seem to get some kind of thrill from professing great fear about this or that pipsqueak dictator.
Here's a piece by Zbigniew Brezinski, contending that "The 'war on terror' has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on AMerica's psyche and on U.S> standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us."
Brezinski notes that use of the term has caused administration types to compare al-Qaida to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, a real stretch, and urged fear about sometimes-inconsequential (think the hapless Miami "plotters") situations. Thus "America has become insecure and more paranoid." We put up with absurd and probably ineffectual security at airports and in office buildings, drifting into a siege mentality. We yawn while our leaders hold people prisoner without charges for years at a time, a sign of an arbitrary government that resists the rule of law, something we denounced with regularity when the communists did it. And so on.
Brezinski calls for some leader to say "enough." If we have to depend on a leader we truly have become a nation of sheeple. Brezinski doesn't write that the Bush administration is not unique, that it has followed and extended precedent from both parties (see my earlier Gabriel Kolko post). Is it too much to hope that gradually but firmly the American people will get fed up and tell their "leaders" to stop inducing paranoia. Perhaps.