A man walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, because it is full of “liberals.”
A man walks into a police station and opens fire, because ‘they might take my guns.’
A man walks into a Church and shoots a doctor he believes is a “baby killer.”
A man walks into a museum dedicated to the Holocaust and opens fire, killing the security guard who held the door for him.
Men and women wearing the proud uniform of the United States military perform unspeakable, unthinkable, degrading acts of torture upon other human beings.
Millions of people go to the polls for the purpose of preventing their fellow citizens from enjoying full civil rights.
Men professing to be ministers of the Gospel of Christ create camps where children are taught to “defend their faith” with violence.
On every side, a multi-billion dollar mass media machine continually reminds us to be afraid.
To be afraid of this kind of human being, or of that kind of human being. Of people who, they assure us, hate us, and are planning unspeakable things for us. Of people who are different from us.
They tell us we must fear Those Who Are Different From Us. Fear them. Fear them! If they look different. If they speak a different language. If they have different beliefs about religion. If they love differently. If they vote for different candidates, or support different public policies.
We must fear them.
And therefore we must oppose them.
The multi-billion dollar mass media Fear Machine rarely makes explicit the final corollary to this chain of twisted logic: We must destroy them.
Indeed, the mainstream mouthpieces of the Fear Machine parrot pious hypocrisies about opposing them in morally superior ways, in the voting booth, in the arena of public policy, via diplomacy, and, in the case of the most dangerous foreign Others, via legal military strength.
They dismiss the occasional utterances by colleagues who do make that final corollary explicit. They call them “extremists,” or “entertainers,” who are not to be taken seriously, of course. They are only exercising their free speech, giving opinions. Sometimes they go a little too far. It is to be regretted.
And yet it keeps happening. On all the outlets of the Fear Machine, those less-than-suave, less-than-official voices remind us of all we should be fearing, remind us how essential it is that we oppose those different from us, we must destroy them, for they are powerful and frightening.
But how quickly the Fear Machine switches gear into ‘horrified’ tut-tuttery when people who live in the miasma of fear the Machine has created, act on that fear in violent, lawless ways. How quickly the Fear Machine denies all complicity, and how vigorously it parrots the “random nutcase” scenarios.
It is unimaginable, unthinkable, that people choking constantly on fear and hate, would cross the line into violence.
We are, after all, Americans.
We are citizens of a country founded on principles of tolerance and freedom, and the rule of law. Therefore, it is totally unlikely that we, who must by virtue of our very citizenship espouse the noble guarantees enshrined in our Constitution, could be driven to such acts by constant exhortations to fear and hate.
When it happens, if it happens at all, it has nothing to do with the Fear Machine, driven by greed and lust for power to keep us in constant terror of Those Who Are Different From Us. It is a tragic anomaly. Mental unbalance. Personal circumstances of horror and disadvantage. Criminal deviance, rooted not in the miasma of fear, but in a native moral inferiority. And exacerbated, of course, by the evil machinations of the terrifying Others– Those Who Are Different From Us.
And therefore, yet another reason to be afraid.