Class Warfare Blog

August 18, 2018

Why Are We So Afraid?

On Quora, this question was posed: Why are so many Americans “tough on crime”?

One of the answers started this way:

“Americans are terrified.

“The United States of America is a nation of the coward, by the coward, and for the coward. Americans are the most frightened people you will find anywhere in the world.

“We are scared of everything. We’re scared of terrorists. We’re scared of immigrants. We’re scared of criminals. We’re scared of GM food. We’re scared of Muslims. We’re scared of brown people. If you come from any other industrialized country, and you’ve never lived in the US, it’s hard to understand the pervasive sense of fear that Americans live in.

“Americans are frightened, and this fear makes us cruel and mean.”

I immediately thought of the campaign to criminalize being a Black male (not just “driving while Black,” but existing while Black). As Jim Crow laws lost their footing in this country, some way had to be created to control Black people, especially Black men (just had to). After emancipation, one strategy was to criminalize the state Black people found themselves in. Vagrancy laws alone caused a great many Black men to be incarcerated and because they were poor and couldn’t pay their fine, they had to work off their fine … and room and board in the county jail. Voila, de facto slavery all over again. When these laws because unacceptable to society at large, the approach became “lock them up” on a much larger scale. Crimes that Blacks might commit had much longer penalties than if whites committed them. (Remember the crack cocaine sentences that were ten times longer than if powdered cocaine were involved? Guess which “possession crime” Blacks were more likely to be caught for.)

It has become our habit, through long exposure, to motivate ourselves to do anything politically by using fear. The message is “we must change because, if we don’t, something really bad will happen.”

Consider education: the report A Nation at Risk, claimed (erroneously) that our poor education system was dooming our country to second tier status … gasp, or worse! Also in education, the fear that girls were falling behind boys in math was promoted heavily at the exact moment at which girl’s math test scores had become equal to those of boy’s. (No mention was made of boy’s English language scores being much lower than girls, that was just “boys being boys.”)

The early environmental movement went to inflated extremes to gain attention. We were told we needed to “save the planet” as if it were at risk and not us.

Our “news media” haven’t helped one bit. They are not in the business of putting things in perspective, rather they are in the business of selling their wares. And the wares that sell are often the most alarming, most lurid, and most outlandish of stories.

Fear mongering is a booming business in this country.

And we are all paying for this by having fear dominate our lives. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was based solely upon fear. The slogan “Make America Great Again” implies we were great once, but are no longer …. but we could be again, just vote for me. Was there any analysis of this opinion? If a survey of world citizens were to ask the question “Which nation is the most powerful currently?” do you not think the USA would be voted to the top? (And if you didn’t so vote, would you expect to be invaded?)

When was the last time something was done politically because it was the right thing to do, rather than via a fear mongering campaign? Obamacare? The opposition to it was loaded with fear mongering, e.g. Death Panels! The national debt will skyrocket! The “safety net” will become a hammock! If not that, what?

If we insist that we will not do anything unless we are terrified, then all we are doing is waging a terror campaign upon ourselves. We are also letting the fear mongers and those who control the message in our news media to lead us around by the nose.

Welcome to the Twenty-first Century!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments »

  1. Oh YES! We are a nation that is very afraid. Hell, we can be frightened by our own shadow. As to acting cowardly, just look at the useless wars of choice we have been in since 1945.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I still think that if ‘saint’ Woodrow had not got us into WW1, there would not have been a WW2. From some of what I have read over these many years of my life, the opposing sides were close to calling WW1 a draw until that racist, messianic complex ridden turd Wilson sent US troops into that awful slaughterhouse.
    One can even make a case that the war we had with Britain in the 1770’s was not needed. Canada is basically independent, true, they still bow to the queen, when they need to, same for Oz and New Zealand, they are in the Commonwealth with a number of other countries, but they are more or less free do have their own policies. No, I’d not bow to the bloody queen, but I don’t bow to anybody so……
    I think our fellow ‘Merikkkans are so afraid of the “other” is due in part to the damn fool US civil war. Other nations ended slavery, well not all of them even now, without having a civil war. OK, I don’t give a rats a** for the music group Guns & Roses, but they do have one sweet line in one of their songs; “What’s so civil about war?”
    Bloody hell, I try and make a short comment and it turns into a doctoral thesis. I really DO talk way too much.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — August 18, 2018 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

    • Good talk, though …

      On Sat, Aug 18, 2018 at 1:24 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 18, 2018 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  2. “The early environmental movement went to inflated extremes to gain attention. We were told we needed to “save the planet” as if it were at risk and not us.”
    A lot more forms of life than just us and the obvious endangered species are at risk.

    Like

    Comment by D.T. Nova — August 18, 2018 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

    • Obviously, but people respond better when threatened themselves rather than trying to save the Spotted Owl.

      On Sat, Aug 18, 2018 at 10:27 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2018 @ 9:12 am | Reply


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