I have been wrestling and wrestling with the bizarre transition that I have been witnessing in friends and relations that are becoming rabidly pro-B-52. It seems that more and more of the people that I encounter every day think that every threat to our safety can be nullified from 30,000 feet with a liberal application of high explosives. It has made me sad and frightened and made me think about moving to another country.
So many people are saying we should “Bomb [insert Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, The Gaza Strip, Palestine, Syria, or Paris here] the shit out of [insert Arabic/Islamic/Farsi or French group of persons here] and teach those [wogs, frogs, sand niggers, camel jockeys, pallies] a lesson.” Or they want to punish the French for having reservations about going and kicking the shit out of this little dusty country with hundreds of tons of black goo under the sand. (Over 3,000 innocent people died! Right or wrong, that’s a LOT of people, esp in two weeks. Maybe reservations weren’t so unreasonable!) I sometimes feel like I don’t know these people that have replaced the nice folks that I have known for years. (And I don’t want to know them. I don’t LIKE hateful people.)
I had the sudden realization today that the normally reasonable people that I have been watching slide into anti-muslim racist hysteria and hatefulness are just really, really frightened. They got their ideas about the invincibility of Fortress America shattered a couple of years ago on the 11th of September, now there’s no going back. I would imagine that back in the late 70s and early 80s in the UK it was possible to find people that supported the idea of rounding up all of the Irish and shooting them once in the back of the head. It’s a natural reaction to a feeling of vulnerability. I would imagine that black people inspired the same sort of fear in certain white folks in the early part of the last century. So they hung a few from trees to make themselves feel better. For that matter, you could also add to that list Japanese-Americans, the last time Fortress America got breached at Pearl Harbor. I feel like our government is contributing to this hysteria with this whole “It could happen anywhere, any time! The terror alert level today is Burnt Sienna! Buy duct tape!” thing.
I think that some of these people that are growling and gnashing their teeth at the world, cheering the deaths of the people that they see on TV and vilifying the French, are talking smack. I think that B-52 worship might be a way to assuage the gnawing, terrible fear that a dirty bomb is going to go off near your kids’ school. What is the point of terrorism after all? To scare the life out of people, or more precisely, to scare people out of their lives.
Everyone is so afraid that we are going to lose the life that we have become accustomed to that we are willing to sacrifice our humanity. I think it’s a dangerous and slippery slope to start hating the entirety of a people (the French, muslims, democrats) and admiring the arbitrary use of deadly force. (It didn’t work in Cambodia against the Khmer Rouge, a politically motivated enemy. How do you suppose it’s going to work against a religiously motivated population? Meditate on that and get back to me.)
I think that there are European countries that know this and when they urge caution, perhaps it’s not wise to push past them like a drunk with a bloody nose and an axe to grind.
Fear can change people and it can ruin your life. If we let fear and anger rule our lives and drive wedges between us, then who wins?