Its Halloween..time for all things spooky, scary, tricky and treaty. Halloween has become one of the biggest holidays in the country, second (in spending) only to Christmas…I’m sorry, I mean Winter Holiday Celebrations. A couple of nights ago the History Channel – or as I like to call it, the “History” Channel – aired a special on zombies. It posed the question, “Why are Americans so fascinated by the undead?”. I found it intriguing. I am one of those Americans. I love those post-apocalyptic, last-man-standing kind of movies and shows, where only a few people are left to battle for the survival of the human race; the Walking Dead is my favorite TV show right now and I thought 28 Days Later (make sure you add the ‘Later’ or else you end up with Sandra Bullock in rehab) was brilliant. Over half of all zombie movies in this country have been produced since 9/11. From George Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968 to present day, zombies have never been more popular than they are today. Why? What do Americans love, or love to hate, about zombies? There are several theories and explanations. Some believe zombies just appeal to our old-fashioned need to be scared. We love roller coasters and horror movies and haunted houses because they are cathartic. They allow us to express our fears without actually being in real danger. Another theory is the idea of an unstoppable contagion is what fuels our obsessions. Since the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu wiped out millions upon millions of people, humankind has been greatly concerned with the idea of communicable diseases and their impact. Remember SARS? Mad Cow Disease? Bird flu? These diseases never grew into the worldwide pandemic officials feared, but they did cause quite a ruckus in the general populations. It is terrifying to think that daily, typical human interactions could be responsible for the spread of a microscopic global killer. That type of fear appeals to our feelings about human connections and community. Not only is it scary to think about contracting a deadly disease with a handshake or a hug, but what is also scary is the thought of humans having to isolate themselves from each other. We are built to live in community. When community disintegrates so does the human spirit, and that truly would be the death of humanity. Perhaps the most interesting theory, and one I find fascinating myself, is the idea that in modern America zombies tweak our fears regarding the ongoing war on terror and radical Islamists. It may sound like a stretch at first, but think about it for a moment. Zombies are scary because they are a horde of mindless, directionless monsters who only have two goals: to destroy you or make you one of them. I suppose the same could be said for radical Islamists. They have no desire to negotiate with or tolerate “westerners”. They will only accept one of two solutions to your existence – destruction or assimilation to their oppressive lifestyle. They cannot be reasoned with and it is impossible to peacefully coexist with them. A radical Islamist has no interest in peace. Neither do zombies. Also, zombies are easier to manage alone or in small groups. They are slow and inflexible. They are still dangerous, and can cause some havoc, but if seen in time they can be taken out with relative ease. It is only when zombies come in masses that they are truly formidable. Our zombie-fighting hero can take out one or two with his weapon of choice, but hundreds are another matter. They multiply easily, they never stop pushing forward and when one is cut down there are three more to take its place. The same could be applied to Islamists. When confronted as a lone wolf or small group, a terrorist is easier to overcome. Take the shoe bomber or the Christmas…sorry, Winter Holiday Celebration bomber – lone men who were able to be spotted and subdued by quick thinking citizens. Sometimes they cause havoc, but more often they can be nullified. A mass of Islamists is a different story. They keep pressing and pressing, pushing and killing. We kill one “top” Al Qaeda leader and three more pop up to take his place. They are not technologically advanced, they don’t have access to the same resources as we do here in the West and they aren’t cutting edge thinkers; but large numbers of terrorists who don’t fear death or value the lives of their own families is a terrifying thought. It may sound crazy, even bigoted to some, but I think its an interesting idea nonetheless. The fact that zombie films have increased exponentially since 9/11 lends itself to the theory as well. Maybe we just like zombies. They’re fun and scary and just human enough to creep us out. Whatever the reason may be, Americans don’t seem to be moving away from zombie madness any time soon. The Walking Dead, the breakout TV hit of last season, has just been renewed for a third season and there are books and documentaries about surviving a zombie apocalypse. Someone has even built a zombie proof house, which I am already saving up to purchase one day. Yes, I know. Zombies aren’t real…yet.