Strong opinions, weakly held

Terrorism Derangement Syndrome

Dahlia Lithwick describes Terrorism Derangement Syndrome:

The real problem is that too many people tend to follow GOP cues about how hopelessly unsafe America is, and they’ve yet again convinced themselves that we are mere seconds away from an attack. Moreover, each time Republicans go to their terrorism crazy-place, they go just a little bit farther than they did the last time, so that things that made us feel safe last year make us feel vulnerable today.

Policies and practices that were perfectly acceptable just after 9/11, or when deployed by the Bush administration, are now decried as dangerous and reckless. The same prominent Republicans who once celebrated open civilian trials for Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” now claim that open civilian trials endanger Americans (some Republicans have now even gone so far as to try to defund such trials). Republicans who once supported closing Guantanamo are now fighting to keep it open. And one GOP senator, who like all members of Congress must take an oath to uphold the Constitution, has voiced his concern that the Christmas bomber really needed to be “properly interrogated” instead of being allowed to ask for a lawyer.

On the long list of things that I find disheartening about the current state of the country, Terrorism Derangement Syndrome tops the list. Last night, Newt Gingrich called President Obama a radical because he placed the underpants bomber in the civilian criminal justice system. I realize this is just a game for Republicans, but it’s a dangerous, corrosive game to play. I do my best to separate myself from anyone exhibiting symptoms as quickly as possible — they get one chance to think things through and then I’m done.


  1. It is the sheer, overt Orwellian use of it by the GOP that is the most disheartening. It’s shameless manipulation via fear of people that are easily swayed.

    They have very few other cards to play these days, but this one is frightening.

  2. This is a practice known as manipulating the overton window, which is essentially espousing increasingly radical ideas in order to move the moderate argument toward your point of view. Talk radio has been doing it for over a decade. Sadly, senators are now following suit which as you say is a dangerous, corrosive game.

  3. I just couldn’t watch Gingrich on The Daily Show after the first minute or so.

  4. Hearing these fearmongers always reminds me of the Monty Python bit about witches and ducks.

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