What It Do: Know Your Enemy

Recently, Michele Bachmann—accompanied by several of her congressional cohorts—performed that most sacred and productive of government functions and drafted an official letter.

In this particular document, the members of congress depict what they see as an alarming threat that reaches to the very upper echelon of the federal government. Specifically, they allege that “top Obama administration officials” may indeed be in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic movement that recently won elections in Egypt—and, according to certain conservatives, seeks to destroy Western Civilization from within.

Of course, the only official actually named in the letter is the unfortunate Huma Abedin, aide to Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton and wife to disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner. And the charges against her were so threadbare that even Ed Rollins—campaign manager for Bachmann’s presidential run—came out publicly to denounce the accusations.

Officially, the recipient of said letter was one Ambassador Harold Geisel, Deputy Inspector General with the Department Of State. Being the official responsible for policing the ranks of the diplomatic agency, it would seem appropriate for a concerned handful of the people’s representatives to contact him regarding potential malfeasance in the department.

However, given the particular representatives who authored the letter—and the poorly-sourced conspiratorial paranoia contained therein—one can hazard a guess as to the true intention of the quasi-correspondence.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States found itself in a strange cultural moment. For the first time since we had purchased our superpower status with two world wars worth of bloodshed, we had no grand enemy. No godless villain for Hollywood to depict or effective bogeymen for politicians to demonize.

For a brief time, Eastern European dictators were the evil flavor of the month. They were vaguely reminiscent of our old Soviet foes, but without the apocalyptic nuclear capability. Grand adventures were had as U.S. and NATO forces ran roughshod over the tin-pot regimes’ arena league military apparatus—complete with tv-friendly POW rescue operations and no Somalia-style unpleasantness.

Just a good old fashioned American war reality show. But then Slobodan Milošević was arrested and the party was over.

A limited number of people—including government officials, journalists, and, yes, Hollywood script writers—had been making noise about Islamic terrorism for years, but hardly anyone really took it seriously until 9/11.

After that, everybody knew who Osama Bin Laden was, and that there was this shadowy organization called al-Qaeda. Many people didn’t know a great deal beyond that, other than the threat came from the Middle East and had something to do with Muslims.

The horrific events of that day—combined with the natural American predisposition to fear brown people with strange religions—made Islamic terrorism the perfect candidate for the role of 21st century nemesis.

That this new “enemy” was an abstract description of a tactic employed by a variety people acting for a variety of reasons—as opposed to an actual regime that could ever be defeated—made it much more useful as a tool to influence the populace and manipulate the world stage.

Thus we had President Bush’s “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists” mantra.

Neoconservatives—who had been eyeing Iraq’s geographic position and oil reserves ever since Poppy Bush failed to close the deal in 1991—followed that declaration by making imaginary connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

The fact that Saddam and al-Qaeda were bitter foes was a level of nuance the United States public had no stomach for at the time.

Colin Powell then infamously stood in front of the UN and the world and offered fairytales of weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion to disarm the Iraqi dictator. Because apparently, if Saddam had actually possessed these weapons, his strategy would have been to give them to an organization that wanted him dead.

A decade of war and sacrifice has left the American public weary and less prone to respond to appeals to fearful nationalist passions. We seem to be more afraid of the next billing cycle than Muslim infiltrators these days. Most of us, at least.

Bachmann and company may have addressed their letter to Ambassador Geisel, but it wasn’t really meant for him. Nor was it for the media’s benefit, as such documents often are. No, this was a love paean disguised as official correspondence, written directly to the paranoid faithful—those stout few who refuse to relinquish the adrenaline rush that comes from contemplating a true enemy.

They who sit at their computers, watching YouTube videos depicting Islamic terrorists behind every corner, tree, and Democrat. Or listening to AM radio as professional demagogues spin frightening delusions well into the night. They who believe. They who forward endless chain emails about those beliefs to their relatives, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, and pretty much anyone else unfortunate enough to be in their address book.

And more importantly, they who consistently open their wallets and checkbooks when the fundraising appeals go out. After all, fighting the forces of liberalism, the “homosexual agenda,” secret Muslim invaders, and perhaps even Satan himself can get quite expensive.