What Does John Gibson Mean By “Wake America Up”?

August 11, 2007

There’s been a meme that’s been permeating the rightosphere for quite a while now, which is this notion that another terrorist attack will be needed to “wake us up”.  It was repeated by John Gibson on Fox:

Gibson’s exact quote:  “I think it’s going to take a lot of dead people to wake America up” (h/t Think Progress)

What the heck does that mean exactly?

Gibson is obviously implying that America isn’t “awake”, but I guess I’m not sure why he would think that. Perhaps I should turn to my fellow bloggers to explain this for me. 

This whole idea got some attention because of that column that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News (Gibson was interviewing the author in the vid), and I noticed that the reaction in the blogosphere was a little mixed…

Malkin says:

We don’t need healing. We need the half of the country that doesn’t believe we are under threat from global jihad to wake up and smell the suicide bomb smoke.

My pal The Sophist says:

The only thing that could possibly wake up the Other Half is for the Islamists to overreach and start demanding the imposition of shari’ah law here in the United States, on non-Muslims. 

And another WP political blogger, mpinkeyes, says:

 Let’s just hope we never find out if another 9/11 will save us. The first one didn’t wake us up, the second one won’t either.

OK… I’m not sure if you people have been sleeping for the last 6 years, but I’d say we are very much “awake” as a nation.  After all, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Patriot Act passed…twice.  Just a little while ago, Congress granted Bush carte blanche to warrantlessly wiretap whoever the hell they please.  In fact, I can’t think of a single thing that Bush hasn’t eventually gotten his way on in order for him to fight his “war on terror”.  And, of course, he right loves to tout how effective it’s all been (just Google “no attacks since 9/11”).   The media constantly reminds us of the terrorist threat.

So….WTF does “Wake Up” mean?  We need to make Bush a king?  Start internment and deportation of Muslims?  Commence bombing of Iran?  Nuke Mecca?  Seriously.  What?

Or, does “America needs to wake up” = “America isn’t frightened enough” ?   If only those darn liberals were more scared, then they wouldn’t worry about losing quaint things like civil liberties in the name of fighting The Great Battle Against “Islamofascism”.  Those Islamists want you DEAD!  DEAD!!!  WAKE UP!!!  BE SCARED!!!!  

Something like that?

Suppose Gibson’s “a lot of dead people” came at the hands of another Tim McVeigh.  How would that “wake us up”? 


  1. You are right about Bush getting his way on most of these issues. But the Democrats ran on ending the war, opposing warrentless wiretapping and all the issues related to the war. The Democrats knew they could not deliver on these promises, but they ran on them anyways to appease the far left. The fact that they gave in to the president shows us they know there is a threat out there, even if they denied it during the election.
    It is the far left Americans that need to wake up to the dangers we face, they feel the biggest threat to America is Bush, and that 9/11 was an isolated incident. They will keep on voting for more candidates that feel the same way and eventually we will be in trouble because of it. Eventually there will be enough politicians elected that are so anti-war and anti-Bush that they will not take terrorism seriously enough, and we will return to a pre 9/11 political mindset.
    That is what I meant by America needs to wake up.

  2. CZ would you concede any of the following ?…
    The color coded terror threat is kinda stupid. Not to many people know what level we’re at right now.
    9/11 wasn’t planned overnight,in a week or in DC
    “Shock” sells.

  3. I think this is part of the black and white, “with us or against us” mentality that the right has adopted on this issue. As if there isn’t room for honest debate over the nature and scope of the threat and how to effectively deal with it. Nope, half the country needs to “wake up”. One can make an argument that the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq has made the overall problem worse, for example, and you’d see claims that one wanted America to “lose” the “War on Terror”. One could also make the argument that the anti-Islamic rhetoric coming from certain corners of the population isn’t really helping the cause, but then you’d be accused of having your “head buried in the sand”.

    It is possible to have an extreme dislike of Bush’s policies and not be on the side of the terrorists (or know that there is a terrorist threat) at the same time. Again, some people can’t seem to wrap their minds around that concept. I know there are people out there who simply can’t fathom why others seem to be more concerned about things like health care, unemployment, or education than terrorism, but there are. After all, not having health insurance when you get sick would appear to be a bigger threat to you personally than any terrorist would be. It’s intellectually dishonest to say these people need to “wake up”.

  4. CZ would you concede any of the following ?…
    The color coded terror threat is kinda stupid. Not to many people know what level we’re at right now.
    9/11 wasn’t planned overnight,in a week or in DC
    “Shock” sells.

    Yes the color-coded terror level thing is extremely dumb. I’m not quite sure what would have to happen for it to be green. It’s more like a government sanctioned instrument of fear than anything else, actually. It’s our “Be Scared” reminder. I noticed that Fox still runs the status on their ticker (as if it’s news that it’s yellow), so I guess they’ve bought into it.

    I’m not sure what your point is by bringing up how 9/11 was planned, but your right, it wasn’t an overnight thing. However, it wasn’t akin to a mission to the moon either. I’ve argued for the longest time that 9/11 could have been planned without so much as a phone call having to be made between the jihadis. People like to think that it was some operation of immense magnitude and resources, but at the end of the day we were hit by 19 guys armed only with knives and flying lessons.

    And of course shock sells.

  5. My color code comment was about the band aid scare essence of it all. I think you hit it out of the park saying “(as if it’s news that it’s yellow),” The truth is people either don’t believe,understand or care.
    The 9/11 comment was not explained. Historically America is surprised when attacked. That isn’t beyond reason given human nature etc.It’s just people shouldn’t be surprised if we do get attacked again.Thankful if we don’t.Concerned enough to prevent. You see where I’m going.
    Off topic. I’m dying to comment on the post 9/11 post. It’s gone off topic. It is your place though so I’ve refrained. Any opinion ? Yeah I’m essentially asking permission hat in hand. enjoy the rest of the weekend

  6. Well, yea, the colors would mean something if it wasn’t always yellow. LOL

    And by all means post in the 9/11 thread. That’s what it’s there for. Off-topic or not, I don’t care. (I prefaced the thread by stating it was to open up a broader discussion anyway). Go ahead and ignore the ‘truther’ if you want to (I am).

  7. yes, that pretty well sums it up. If you could see your way clear to vote in another idiot with delusions of adequacy it would probably help as well.

  8. The simple fact of the matter is, the wingtards are praying to Chimpy’s Jesus for another attack, hopefully one that’ll lay waste to legions of libruls and other America-hating vermin.

    They’re too stupid, of course, to consider that the day something like that happens the whole “fight them over there” mantra becomes a steaming pile-and that most Americans are apt to react by blaming the monkey, rather than praising him. But you won’t find much intelligence when you’re quoting knuckle-dragging scum like Malkin, Gibson, and other assorted automatons.

  9. Honestly if you ask me, there are other things America needs to “wake up” about (Caution: Very long and disturbing article)

    This is what the f***ing war on terror and the cult of fear and shock has allowed to happen.

  10. CZ –

    I think you have the answer staring at you in the face as you peruse the comments of JollyRoger and The Sphinx.

    They sound like people concerned about Islamists to you?

    Or put another way, how much of their energy is spent hating “wingtards” and “knuckle-dragging scum like Malkin, Gibson” instead of say, oh, I don’t know, our actual enemies?

    The mainstream Right does not hate Liberals as much as we hate Islamists and fascists; we just think you’re wrong or misguided. In contrast, the mainstream Left hates Conservatives far more than they hate Islamists; they think we’re evil.

    That’s what is meant by “wake up”.


  11. The Sphinx is a Muslim (just for the record).

  12. The Sophist,

    Just think back 70 years, and remember who was considered the “Enemy” in Europe and a “grave” and “real” threat to civilization that had to be dealt with. Tell me who they were and what happened to them because of this propaganda. Then tell us whether they really were a threat or not.

    Furthermore I’ll ask you again to read the article I’ve posted in my last comment. Will you like what you read? I hope not. This fear and hate of Islamists (a term too vague for its own good) that you think is so Goddamn necessary has lead to the particular racism, violence and murder under the American flag™ presented in the article. That point was even explicitly addressed.

    Is that something you can be proud of? Hate is one thing, but the ignorance and the unwillingness to learn more that comes hand-in-hand with this kind of hate, which in turn leads to dreadful results, is a historical mistake you refuse to learn from. And that’s my biggest problem with people like you.

  13. That Spinx is a Muslim doesn’t matter one way or the other. I can believe that one could theoretically be a Muslim and still be compatible with the Western-liberal tradition, and I’ll grant him that until proven otherwise.

    However, when I say the America needs to wake up, it is specifically in reference to things like that article linked to by Sphinx. Apparently what you all care about far more is alleged atrocities by US forces (and considering the source, a convicted deserter, I’m not sure how much credence I put on Mejia’s words) than proven atrocities by Islamists throughout the world.

    Is War bad? Of course — no one pretended otherwise. Is our counterinsurgency perfect? Of course not. No one pretended otherwise. But considering recent progress — and really, you all need to read more Michael Yon and less TNR and The Nation and other biased press — I think we’re doing rather well, and I can be and am proud of that.

    The “islamophobia” canard is quite simply a strawman brought up to silence guilt-ridden white folks in the West. Unless you all get over yourselves, you’re still asleep to the threat.

    I take it that Sphinx is equating Muslims in America to Jews in Germany. PUHLEEZE. That’s intellectual dishonesty of the sort that leads me to believe that either Sphinx is a CAIR-implant or seriously deluded. Every possible moment, Bush and other government officials are running to every conceivable “Islamic association” including some that has connections to terror groups, such as Hamas, to ingratiate themselves. And quite frankly, that analogy itself is offensive to the Jews, Gypsies, and others who actually suffered genocide.

    But again, it seems to me that with every comment, you all are proving my point. Obsessing with phantom “islamophobia”, obsessing over “abuse” by American troops, etc. simply shows me that you’re not taking the threat seriously. Indeed, you see the threat as overblown, and what is more dangerous is our paranoia or hyperventilation or overreaction or whatever, right? The greater danger is in our overreacting, not from their stated goals, aims, and actual campaigns, right?

    Therein lies the rub.


  14. Just what kind of progress are you talking about? Your bloody war based on lies has completely destroyed the stability Saddam was able to maintain, as evil as he was. Your troops have created an entire new set of problems that hadn’t existed before, and left Iraq economically and politically much worse off than it was before. In fact, you’re miles behind your starting point. Strikes me as odd that you consider yourself proud of that.
    Where’s the democracy that was promised? Nowhere. Where’s the freedom and security for the Iraqi people? Whatever was left of it is gone now.

    And the reference to the Jews, Gypies, Communists and dissidents who suffered in Germany was just a friendly reminder that the atrocities commited against them started as well by propaganda driven by irrational fear and hate, much like what you’re being willingly spoon-fed on a constant basis. The situation is still far away from a holocaust, but even that had to start at some point. And history will judge the likes of you harshly for being aware of ongoing crimes against humanity such as in Iraq, and not even merely condemning them.

    What you do is you just shrug off this whole act of major-league bullsh*t as maybe not perfect but satisfactory enough. Frankly enough, it’s an insult to the Iraqi people who are suffering under this crap, and also to the troops that are mentally tormented by what crimes their counterparts are comitting. If you’re cool with that, you’re either simply in denial about what’s going on, you don’t give half a damn, or you have psychotic tendencies. Can’t really decide there.

    Never have you ever stopped to consider that these atrocities are maybe one of the reasons why terrorists exist in the first place. Imagine if it were China invading your country and doing that to your people. You wouldn’t like the Chinese now very much, and would probably want to fight them, even if they resorted to calling you “insurgent” or “terrorist”.
    Plus it’s not the first time the US creates what it fights afterwards as terrorists. The Afghani militants you ran off to fight 6 years ago? Armed and financed by the US government. Osama bin Laden? Armed and financed by the US government.

    All that for what? For fighting the communists who were the source of all evil and biggest threat to world peace and stability 30 years ago. What happened, you got sick of that and decided to hate somebody else instead? Who will you hate next after Islam’s turn is over, the Inuits? The British?

    Funnily enough, at some point you complain about strawman arguments, and then bring a grandious remark about somebody being a convicted deserter. Furthermore you whine about biased press, and yet parrot the same old half-arsed, one sided and downright outrageous crap that’s said on LGF, Jihadwatch and the likes over and over and over again.

    I’ve lived in a Muslim country most of my life, an idea that would cause the likes of you nightmares and lots of wet bedsheets. I know more Muslims than you can ever imagine, and not a single one of them goes near being a threat to civilization. My daily life has been one large Muslim environment.
    Now if the threat was as bad as you think it is, I’d be more aware of it than you. However, you’ve completely surrenderd to manipulative propaganda, and are far away from the entire picture.

    Shame really..

  15. I’ll tell you what is a shame, from my perspective, Sphinx, considering that you claim to be a Muslim, who has lived in a Muslim country most of your life (which would that be?), and is not a threat to civilization.

    What’s a shame is that your energy isn’t spent directed at the guys sawing heads off children, but is instead spent directed at bogeyman and false targets like “Iraqi people suffering under this crap, and the troops mentally tormented by crimes”.

    Priorities would help. So would some measure of accuracy in your worldview, but I suppose that is too much to ask for prior to the “waking up”.

    By the way, as a conservative, living under Islamic law is frankly something I can deal with. Most of the readers of this blog, on the other hand, would have nightmares and wet bedsheets living under shari’a law. Wonder if that gives them pause.

    Because it gives me pause to see who is and who is not defending liberty and human rights in the present conflict.


  16. “..considering that you claim to be a Muslim, who has lived in a Muslim country most of your life (which would that be?), and is not a threat to civilization.”

    That almost sounded as if you didn’t believe me. I’m a 19-year old student who moved to Germany from Egypt last year for University. And probably the only ones that’d feel threatened by me are those who are terrified by being around an unknown brown-skinned, black-haired fellow, regardless of everything. A result of the propaganda you have submitted to a long time ago.

    Now let’s be honest with ourselves right here. What do you expect me – a young student living alone – to do about extremists or terrorists? I’ve never known any extremists I could talk some sense into. So what am I to do? Go after them and hunt them down? Stand on the street and yell “Terrorists are bad”? Engage in interpretive dance as an anti-terrorism symbol? Merely condemn them? I condemn all kinds of violent people, regardless who they are. But be realistic for a second and ask yourself what that’ll all bring. Nothing, that’s what. There is no way you or I can stop terrorism as an individual, and if you think I can, then fire away with your suggestions. I’d be interested to hear them.

    More and above, let’s put this whole priority mumbo-jumbo aside. My problem with you and the likes of you is that when confronted with a really grim reality like what I’ve shown you here, you close your eyes, cover your ears, and pretend that all’s fine.

    You have a major problem with terrorism, and yet you claim to be proud of your troops progress in Iraq, and that complaining about crimes against humanity commited in Iraq under the American flag is bogus. Have you actually read this article to the end? Read it now again. THAT, my friend, is terrorism. Because put yourself in the shoes of an innocent Iraqi man struggling towards a better life under such circumstances and then some bastard soldiers ruin your life, or even take it away. Then tell me you can be proud again. Can you?

    Do you think that the American army is doing your country a favour by terrorising Iraqis and destroying their country? As I said before, this is creating more “insurgents” and “terrorists” every day. And judging by your own terrorists, who can blame them?

    Newton’s third Law refers to mechanics, but it applies here very well: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

    You’re sitting in the comfort of your home, throwing a fit about violence and terrorism, and the people of Baghdad are living under fear every day, threatened by sectarian violence and American terrorism. This leads me to the conclusion that for you it’s not about good vs. bad, or moralilty vs. evil, it’s about us vs. them. “They” are always wrong, and a threat to all of “us”, and “we” need to do everything in our power to eliminate “them”. All propaganda, manipulation, corruption and dishonesty and even violence is alright, as long as it’s coming from “us” to “them”, and not the other way round. You don’t care about innocent people dying or unnecessary destrution, as long as your side isn’t suffering under it. And that is indeed shameful hypocrisy.

    If somebody is defending liberty and human rights here, it definitely is NOT you. You should be ashamed.

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