As a child, one of our Halloween traditions was taking in a horror flick on the night before at the old Oxford Theater in Little Falls, NJ. It was our dress rehearsal for the second biggest night of the year. Dressed in our Halloween costumes, we walked to the theater as it started to get dark. Yes, we walked, and it was up hill both ways. When we arrived at the Oxford we pushed our 35 cents through the window and received our ticket to a night of fright. Once inside, we all paraded down one aisle, across the stage, and up the other aisle before settling in our seats for the movie. The trip across the Oxford Theater stage for the Halloween parade was pretty cool for a ten year old. Once we got to our seats, it was time for........................THE MUMMY! I remember it like it was last night. When the movie ended, I ran home at close to the speed of sound. Perhaps it was because of my age, but I can still remember that feeling. Fear is a powerful emotion and I was terrified.
As a young person, I could not imagine anything more terrifying than that run home in the dark after The Mummy. As an adult when I think of terror, the images are no longer of The Mummy following me home that October night. My vision and perception of terror changed dramatically as I watched the World Trade Towers change from a piece of the skyline into a pile of rubble. Throughout history there have always been acts of terror and terrorists, but as Americans we have rarely had to witness such things first hand. Prior to the events of that clear September morning in 2001, few of us had been directly touched by people using fear and violence as a method of manipulation or political coercion.
As horrible as September 11 was, there is another equally frightening and increasingly prevalent type of terrorism within our borders. I am not simply speaking of the guy trying to blow up his shoes or his BVDs. There are much more subtle, sly, subversive and sinister types of terrorist acts that are taking place everyday. These are acts by people who have infiltrated every city and small town in our country. The actions of these terrorists can forever change the direction of the United States. These fearmongers are within our government and on the airwaves. On a daily basis they attempt to manipulate, coerce, and instill fear in our citizens to achieve their goals. You can witness these acts daily when you watch the news. I am talking about some of our elected officials and some of the political commentators.
In The Mummy, the fear was created with smoke, mirrors, make-up and special effects. We understood that what was presented to us in the movie was not real or the truth. These public terrorists are much more frightening than Boris Karloff because they are attempting to use lies and fear to manipulate my neighbors, my country, and me for their own purposes and egos. By definition, if you are using fear to manipulate or coerce, you are a terrorist. It seems that many of these subtle terrorists have adopted the motto, "Don't let truth get in the way of our mission! Honesty doesn't always get the job done!"
The health care battle recently became truth-abuse central. The claims of "death panels" and "pulling the plug on Granny" were fabrications created for the sole purpose of creating fear. We have seen similar misrepresentations of facts surrounding all of our country's most pressing issues. The truths about the energy crisis, climate change, the job market and the economy have all been equally abused. In the past decade, the practice has become so commonplace that it hatched a new industry on the web. Sites on the internet such as Politifact.org or Factcheck.org have sprung up to help separate the BS and spin from the truth.
As the founding fathers kicked around the idea of freedom of the press, I am certain that they envisioned it as an avenue to ensure that the truth would not be suppressed. Many people currently in the media or media spotlight have decided that they have been given the right to hide the truth, twist the truth or simply create their own truth. When our freedom is abused in such a fashion to create fear, the abusers become nothing more than terrorists.
We have crossed over to the dark side when political posturing is more important than solutions to our problems. The end results can not be positive if the truth is cast aside in favor of fear-mongering. I am not afraid of the truth. I am afraid of the lies. It is time to require people to be accountable for their words and their actions. We must all remember that just because the words came out of their mouths, it doesn't mean it's the truth. With apologies to Jack Nicholson, we can handle the truth, and it is our duty to demand it!