The politics of fear


A few days ago, I began a post for the old Roamin’ Gnomials site with this sentence: I grew up in an America that was “The Home of the Brave.” Now I live in a land of sniveling cowards.

When The Current President — if you ever see his name in one of my posts, you may either consider it an editing error or a matter of my account having been hacked — upended all our country’s immigration laws and history of smiling on those seeking refuge on our shores, it was an act perpetrated by a fear that mean people from somewhere else would travel to what once was the greatest nation in the world and take it down.

Think about that. There are some bad people overseas, but they are small and ruthless groups that are fighting for their lives against the U.S. military. They’re not on the verge of anything. But fear and hysteria are things Americans have long had in abundance, and when they have a target for those fears, facts are optional.

First, let’s look at a recent history of the State of Fear.

In 2001, after the worst terrorist attack on our country, there arose the USA Patriot Act. That was when Congress, trying to cover its backside and act as if it was doing something to make us safe, wrote an egregious act that gave up many of the liberties we as Americans enjoyed since the days of The Founders. The reason? There were some people in caves in the Middle East who, without benefit of an army, navy or air force, were a threat to our country. It was as if this threat had suddenly shown itself and we were going to snuff it out. But in truth, our intelligence agencies had known about the threat all along, though bungling between field officers and the people in Washington proved decisive in the success of 9/11. The people in power were fond thereafter of the claim that the Patriot Act had kept us safer. We pointed out that the barn door had already been breached.

Another profile in cowardice occurred in 2009, when President Barack Obama’s first order was the closure of the Guantanamo jails, and the plan to bring the inmates — I’m sorry, the Detainees — to the U.S. for trial. Congress reacted like the president had announced a plan to spray the populace with mustard gas. Congress — both parties — collectively wet its pants over the plan, even though the American courts had previously tried and convicted terrorists and locked them up in prisons from which they will never leave. We know it was political — their plan was to oppose Obama every step of the way — but they expressed concern for the security of the nation.

I still think that if Obama had gone on television and talked down the cowards in Congress and told them everything was going to be all right, he might have gotten their attention and made them see that there was a price to be paid for nonsense opposition. We’ll never know.

And now, after this election, we have turned our back on leading the world. When The Current President made his proclamation last week, he simply closed the door behind us.

By the way, if you’d like to read a compelling piece, then I offer this from last Friday’s New York Times: It’s called The Politics of Cowardice, and it’s written by David Brooks. (Another thing I dislike about The Current President is that I’m now reading David Brooks and agreeing with him. But such is life, no?)

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