Shampoo, Fear and Elections


In the wake of the August 10th, 2006 arrests of some nineteen men on charges of conspiracy to blow up airliners, George Bush, wannabe tyrant that he is, declared that the US is at war with so-called Islamofascists. Not only does this use of the word to describe terrorists that use the Koran as their inspiration misunderstand the definition of fascism, it insults the majority of Muslims along with the intelligence of thinking people around the world. According to the American Heritage dictionary, fascism is “a philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.” Left unsaid in this defintion is that the economic control is control by giant corporations, not the State. In fact, the State serves the corporations. To add to this misuse of the English language, Michael Chertoff, Uber Commander of Homeland Security, called these “Islamofascists’ imperialists. Now, fascists don’t need a country from which to launch their repressive and pro-capitalist theory, but in order for someone to be an imperialist, they need to have a country to operate from.

Last time I looked, the so-called terror gangs of which Bush speaks don’t run any nation anywhere. Which means that the so-called Islamofascists can’t be accused of belligerent nationalism since they don’t have a nation to be nationalistic about. Like Christianity, Islam encourages converts, and also like Christianity, it has its adherents that encourage such conversions under threat of death. Both religions, however, prefer people to convert of their own free will. The fact that the terror gangs that call themselves Muslim gain most (if not all) of their converts voluntarily says a lot more about the powerlessness those individuals feel (thanks to the machinations of western Christian capital) than it does about Islam. It might do Messrs. Bush and Chertoff some good to look in the mirror to discover the true definition of imperialist and fascism. Indeed, it might do a good number of US citizens some good.

The New York Times wrote that the arrests and foiled “attack” with shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes could well be a turning point in the upcoming US elections. According to this viewpoint, the prowar folks running for election can point to the arrests as proof that Washington is surely fighting a war against an evil never before seen in the world and that the war in Iraq and US support for Israel is essential in order to win this war. To put it bluntly, the only way one could reason like this is if they had their head way up their brainwashed ass (or is it asswashed?) Most of the rest of the world (and many US residents) see the situation completely opposite.

In other words, the reason for the raised potential of terror attacks in the United States and the United Kingdom is because they invaded Iraq, occupied it, and now refuse to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon and Gaza. Instead, the US State Department, the White House, and the Pentagon debate about when they should send more cluster bombs to Israel.

The growing consensus, meanwhile, on that question is that they will send them as long as Israel promises that in the future they won’t aim them directly at buildings where people might be living (or whatever you call the daily life of the Lebanese these days).

These terror cells are not being uncovered in Italy or Spain. No, they are being uncovered in Britain and their targets are (if we are to believe the British and US security officials) US citizens. Do you think the reason for this might be that Italy is in the process of removing her troops from Iraq and Spain did so a couple years ago? Then again, this might mean that Spain and Italy don’t feel the need to scare their citizenry into submission every once in a while just so the rulers can continue their march towards total; control. Or total chaos.

Whether the plots are real or contrived by some black ops grouping, they have had the effect that London and Washington wanted: their citizens are acting a little more scared than they were. Like the air raid drills of the 1950s and 1960s when New Yorkers were instructed to go to certain subway stations designated as fallout shelters and schoolchildren were told to hide under their desks and duck and cover should the big bad Soviets drop their atomic bomb, these occasional terror plots and alerts are designed to keep the citizenry in fear. Back in 1963, Bob Dylan answered the state’s manipulation of that fear with his song “Let Me Die In My Footsteps.” Here’s a sample of his sentiment:

There’s always been people that have to cause fear
They’ve been talking of the war now for many long years
I have read all their statements and I’ve not said a word
But now Lawd God, let my poor voice be heard.
Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

As for those elections in the US, voters should be aware. Just because a politician is running as a Democrat doesn’t mean they are against the war. Where I live in North Carolina, the Democratic candidate is as pro-war as the Republican candidate, who is a shamelessly corrupt war supporter that supports the most reactionary of the immigration bills and kisses the ass of every right wing supposedly Christian preacher in the region (and there’s a few of them, believe me). As for Israel, forget it, you’d be hard put to find a single Democrat who doesn’t support every act of war, torture cell, wall of separation, and cluster bomb attack that Israel undertakes. Every bully likes having a lieutenant that will provoke a fight and do the dirty work. Tel Aviv is playing that role for Washington these days.

Then again, perhaps this all means that voters in the US do support Israel’s wars and Washington’s plans to dominate the world. If they do, then they shouldn’t be surprised if real fascism becomes the rule of law in these United States. It is already the economic status quo.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at:



Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: