Monday, May 05, 2008

Australians Fear Terrorism Less Now They're Not Being Bombarded With Ads Telling Them To Fear Terrorism

The former Howard government's generous publicity campaign for Al Qaeda and terrorism fell off our TV screens and out of the newspaper ads some weeks before John Howard became the former prime minister of Australia.

The Howard government spent years and tens of millions of dollars trying to position terrorism as the National Fear. It kind of worked for a while, particularly with the in-the-neighbourhood attacks in Bali helping to make the threat seem more real to the people of Broome and Wollongong, but Terror Fear never really took hold, not like it has in countries where state and non-state terrorism is a local, brutal reality.

The survey quoted below claims that Australians are now more worried about meeting their financial obligations - mortgage, credit cards, fuel, food - than they are about the esoteric threat posed by terrorists deciding to attack a concrete bridge they may occasionally drive over :

Australians are more worried about their hip-pocket than being involved in a terrorist attack, according to a new survey.

One in three people are very concerned about meeting essential payments such as mortgages, while fears about national, personal and internet security have all fallen since December.

December, 2007, was about two months after the ads telling you that you must be awesomely suspicious of bags of garden fertiliser, rolls of wire left in carparks, bearded men with cameras and an intense interest in architecture and not really curious holes in fences stopped airing across the country.

The findings graphically illustrate the impact on average families of rapidly rising grocery and petrol prices, and high housing costs.

Fears about meeting financial obligations rose by three percentage points to 33 per cent of people being very or extremely concerned.

"There's no doubt more people are fearful of protecting the family's hip pocket than of being bombed by the Taliban..."

Those promoting Al Qaeda through exaggerating its potential threat must now find a way to blame Islamic bomb fetishists for $1.50 litre petrol, soul crushing drops in the value of millions of Australian homes, interest rate rises that shred hope and break up families, and food prices that leave much more space in the fridge and not so full plates.

All of those financial head and heart kicks are terrorism, too. If what worries you makes you fight with those you love, makes you sleep less, and less deeply, and makes you feel paranoid and fearful, uncomfortable and hopeless, then you are being terrorised. But this is legal, financial terrorism.

You won't, however, see ads telling you that three credit cards with limits all far beyond what average wage earners are every likely to be able to pay off - while bleeding cash on the mortgage, fuel and food bills - will do more damage to the lives, health and minds of Australians than tribal warriors in lands where electricity and water does not flow will ever inflict.

Bin Laden could only have dreamed of unleashing the kind of terror that savage debt now carves across the country.