Fear and the city

In months after the 9/11 attacks in the US, there were media reports about how the Bush government was using fears of another attack to fuel its own ends. As the government’s played with the levels of alert, a nervous people tired of trying to protect themselves simply decided to trust the government implicitly.

I wasn’t there in the US. In fact, I have never been there. But I suspect that this was close to the truth. A people trying to bounce back together don’t try to protest too much. Minor irritants are put to rest. People somehow feel more patriotic, not less after being attacked in some fashion.
As it turned out, the US was never attacked after that.
It is not really news that the Hyderabad twin blasts and earlier blast at the Mecca Masjid have cast a cloud of fear over Chennai and the state.
(A girl from Vellore, who dad is said to receiving treatment at the famous CMC there, was arrested at first for her role in the blast. She has since been “cleared” though she continues to remain in custody. It is now suspected that the girl’s relatives may be wanted for there role in the twin blasts.)
Today, a bucket of dates found at the city airport caused a major scare. The bomb squad descended on the scene and removed the bucket. A similar scene was repeated at Anna Square. These are not the first occurrences since the twin blasts.
At Sathyam theatres in Chennai, they were checking viewers using a metal detector. I was told that they are planning to introduce metal detectors similar to the ones at the airport for members of the audience to walk through so that everyone knows that the person sitting next to him is clean. For a moment after seeing the guy do the cursory search with the metal detector at the theatre, I saw fleeting images of people running out after a bomb scare.
This used to a regular affair at the USIS near Gemini earlier. Twice or thrice in a period of six months or so when I member of the library, patrons were told to fall in line and wait outside as the premises were searched for possible presence of bombs. You must have seen the armoured vehicles that sometimes stand outside USIS making it look at a war zone.
It’s ironical that every measure taken to make us feel more safe and secure, actually increases our paranoia. All the steps taken to make us feel more protect terrorise us. Suddenly, we now need the government all the more. If not to make our lives better, then to at least make sure we live to tell our tales.

3 Comments so far

  1. little Ram (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

    I wish we could have a society where order is maintained with the minimum of force; obedience of law is the norm and respect for other’s rights is universal. It might seem Utopian, but I remain confident that we are progressing towards this.

    People committing terrorist acts are probably blinded to the need for them to treat opposing views as just that and the right of others to live in peace. Tackling this and the resultant fear needs us to market an idea/ ideas that makes such violent acts seem less attractive and peaceful existence rewarding. That is probably more sustainable than all the wars against terrorism, security alerts and checks.

  2. nandhu (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 1:58 am

    that’s a pretty measured comment, sir!

  3. Karthik Thirumalai (unregistered) on September 18th, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

    I can’t agree with you more about the state of fear in the US. The paranoia created by the Bush Administration has led to erosion of civil liberties across the world. There was a journalist named Benjamin Franklin who once famously wrote “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither” .

    The comments above reflect reality, rather than what most of the right-wing politicians say and do
    in the US.

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