Fear sells. It sells votes. It sells guns. It sells political candidates most of all. According to the latest Washington Post poll, 83 percent of registered voters now think a terrorist attack in the U.S. is likely. When such palpable fear exists, textbook “leaders” would assuage irrational mania, cool the fever and smartly and swiftly address the causes of legitimate fears.
The worst result of the incessant fear peddling is that so many Americans have equated being over-armed to being brave. Carrying an ak47 into the local Wal-Mart doesn’t make you brave, it makes you stupid. You wanna see brave? Watch a fireman that you think makes too much money run INTO a burning building to save some sorry ass from smoking in bed while sucking down an Old Milwaukee.
If you look around the world, of course a terrorist attack in the U.S. and everywhere is likely. Terrorist attacks are everywhere. And we “brave” Americans should be scared shitless and buy at least one more sawed-off shotgun and a scary ak47 with a crap ton of 7.62×39 ammo!
We have them daily in the U.S….but most of them are from homegrown, scared, paranoid and armed-to-the-teeth white males. It’s the number one sales tactic for the NRA. And every time there’s televised coverage of another mass shooting (there’s been 1,039 just since Sandy Hook in 2012) every Wal-Mart, pawn broker, and gun show racks up more sales.
You can never have your basement or backyard shed full of enough guns, after all, if some unforeseen enemy comes to harm you, you can fire up all 75 of your ak-47s that you have stored in your bunker and by god you won’t go down without a fight by that advancing enemy combatant who wants your 60” HD, Wrap-Around, 4g television; no sir!
But for the GOP Presidential candidates, fear is the Black Friday sales event of the season. “Fear is electoral gold for the GOP,” Paul Waldman wrote last week for The American Prospect. Indeed, certain Republicans have stoked a “culture of fear” and the proposed “solutions” that actually fuel the very enemy we seek to crush.
Case in point: There was no need to pass an anti-Syrian refugee bill last week for pete’s sake. None. The only reason House Speaker Paul Ryan felt he had to rush legislation to the House floor was to appease the extremists in the party following the Paris attacks. All other business was thrown aside. No matter that refugees to the U.S. undergo a multi-year, multistep vetting process. No matter that Syrian refugees are the ones fleeing the terrorists. No matter that the Paris attackers were Belgian and French.
Understandably, elected leaders want to protect their people. But this was not a rational way to address the problem – and it did nothing to placate the growing mob. Now we have talk of unconstitutional measures such as religious databases, closing mosques, even closing cafes or any place where “radicalization” may happen. And the use of outlandish, racist rhetoric – comparing refugees to rabid dogs, calling immigrants rapists and murderers – fertilizes the fear. Donald Trump’s weekend comments about New Jersey Muslims celebrating the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center and his tweets of “statistics” from a neo-Nazi source purporting to show black-on-white murder rates were stunning lies. As Hillary Clinton tweeted, Trump’s consideration of a Muslim database is “shocking rhetoric” that “should be denounced by all seeking to lead their country.”
Welcome to REAL fascism. Trump-style fascism. Acceptable fascism. White male NRA members kill more Americans than any foreign terrorist group, but let’s round up those fleeing the war zone we created to begin with.
So, while France stands in brave defiance of the terrorism that struck their nation, accepting more Syrian refugees and going about their normal business in the face of continued threats, many American Republicans rush to rip up our Constitution and suggest measures that have evoked the memory of World War II fascism and the shame of interning Japanese Americans, or the then-public sentiment against Jewish refugees. My, my how brave America has become….pffft. I’ve seen braver rodents.
So to hell the facts: Create a conservative media frenzy and demand immediate action. You don’t have to look far to find recent examples. Last year, it was a travel ban as a reaction to an “outbreak” of Ebola half a world away. There were FOUR cases in the U.S. F O U R!!!
Republican politicians and right-wing media whipped up fear to the point where polls showed the public agreed with them, even though all the health experts said such a ban would make the problem worse. Amazingly enough, after the election, the matter was instantly dropped. Ask yourself why.
Too many idiots equate carrying concealed weapons to making you brave. Carrying an ak47 into the local Wal-Mart doesn’t make you brave, it makes you stupid. You wanna see brave watch a fireman that you think makes too much money run INTO a burning building to save your sorry ass from smoking in bed while sucking down an Old Milwaukee. We’ve become a nation of scared little girls looking under the bed for boogeymen with a grenade launcher in her hand.And the only way to assuage this irrational fear? Hell, more guns!!! Fear Sells. The irony is that simple mathematics shows that the more guns you own, the more likely you are to accidently shoot yourself or somebody in your household.
Want more evidence that America has been transformed from the home of the brave to the home of the scared and obscenely armed?
Take immigration. What could have been a sensible debate about policy solutions has now lurched into racial slurs and round ’em up, throw ’em out and build a friggin’ 2,000 mile wall and deport them all. Of course the cost of this ludicrous endeavor? It costs $2.8 million to $3.9 million per mile to install the least expensive urban fencing, according to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report. Lord knows what the actual cost would be, and who exactly would be tasked with building that wall and how much is that report under-estimated in today’s dollars? I guess we can just take some more money from Social Security like George W. Bush did to fund his illegal war in Iraq.
Doesn’t matter that more Mexicans are now leaving the country than immigrating here and it doesn’t matter that an avenue for a path to citizenship would greatly benefit our economy.
Remember Sharia law? In 2010, Oklahoma kicked off the rush to ban Sharia law in the states. After the courts struck down singling out “Sharia” as unconstitutional, lawmakers broadened the language to “foreign and international” law – even though supporters of such a ban could not identify a single instance where a foreign law has been applied in a way that overrode existing state and federal protections. Nevertheless, conservatives pushed on, introducing a variation of this unnecessary law in over 30 states instead of talking about how to keep their bridges from crushing school buses.
The GOP has morphed from the tea party of 2009 into the “Party of Trump” in 2015, growing more extreme along the way. But Trump is too smart (just ask him) to believe his own rhetoric. Let’s call it what it is: purposeful manipulation designed to spread public alarm in order to herd fearful voters into the GOP corral.
The abject fear and cowardice of the “brave” Americans with enough firepower stuck into their underwear to kill a rhinoceros but will drink a bottle of Jim Beam and climb into their over-sized Hummer2 without a thought of whose innocent family they might kill on the way home from their favorite bar disgusts the shit out of me.
And the references to Nazis has become absurd. Whether the topic is national security, gun safety and regulation or immigration, Republican presidential candidates can’t stop alluding to Nazi Germany.
In an interview with Yahoo News Tuesday, Donald Trump expounded on the security state he envisions to combat terrorism. “Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion,” reporter Hunter Walker writes. “He wouldn’t rule it out.” Trump’s response was: “We’re going to have to – we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely.” A database and special identification? That sounds uncomfortably like a higher-tech version of mandating that Jews wear yellow badges. What’s next, mandating that Muslims live in ghettoes?
“And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy,” Trump told Yahoo News. It can’t happen here used to be a warning that it really can if we’re not careful – not a campaign promise that it will. Indeed, Trump’s simultaneous declarations that he supports “unthinkable” levels of surveillance in mosques and even shuttering their doors looked tame in comparison.
In any normal election, a candidate even entertaining such fascist ideas would be subject to bipartisan disgust from all corners of the country – north, south, right, left, down from the heavens; this sort of talk would be a candidacy-killing disqualifier. But in 2016, it’s just a variation on the theme of candidates displaying a strange penchant for filling policy platform holes with predictions that the U.S. could turn into Nazi Germany.
I guess they got tired of speculating that the Chinese Red Army could be taking over our neighborhoods any day now.
Over the summer, Mike Huckabee, equated the historic nuclear deal with Iran to taking the Israelis and “march[ing] them to the door of the oven.” The comparison pleased Trump, who said he was “OK with” Huckabee’s analogy and that it “made people think a bit.”
Whether overt or subtle, it’s a horrific undercurrent to accompany the selection of the next leader of the free world. Yet rather than tarnishing the records of these candidates, Holocaust allusions and comparisons slide right off.
What happened to the America where “All You Have to Fear is Fear Itself”? The GOP and the NRA would have you scared of every shadow, every Mexican, every Syrian, every Muslim…but don’t fear all the white males carry ak47s in the grocery store?
Scared little boys and girls with grenade launchers to protect themselves from boogeymen. Home of the brave. You can’t exist in both. Into which category do you land?
Harvey A. Gold