Patriot Act: The Fear of Fellow Americans Rekindled




After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, there was an array of emotions and feelings running across the country, many of them fueled by the persuasive words of President Bush and his administration. There was an immediate urge to fight terrorism in all shapes and sizes, including prevention and extra care within our borders. The Patriot Act was passed on October 26th, 2001, only 35 days after the attack on the World trade Center. This act increased the level of suspicion towards fellow Americans, especially those of Middle Eastern descent.

This level of suspicion is reminiscent of the Cold War era, where homosexuals were heavily scrutinized and treated with disrespect. Homosexuality was seen as a threat, and that once it infiltrated the government or any other organization it would spread throughout the entire thing. Regarding post-9/11, allegations ran rampant, especially toward those who were of Middle Eastern descent. Fingers were pointed at completely innocent people, only because they had a similar appearance to the hijackers of the 9/11 flights.

This general fear and misinformed judgment led to ignorance among the American people both during the Cold War and post 9/11. It was driven by propaganda (such as the poster linked here) and the persuasive words of the media of both eras. Without the media constantly covering topics related to 9/11 and making out fellow American neighbors to be the bad guys, the public would not have had this amped up suspicion. As seen in the photo above, the general consensus of many citizens was that the Patriot Act was a violation of privacy and did not believe in the ideals it supported.

The way the public was influenced by the media and public figures during both the Cold War and the period post 9/11 shows the similarities between both eras. This time, Cold War is used by the media not as a Cold War spy movie, but as a tool to convince the American people what is right and wrong.


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