I used to be afraid of the big bad wolf; that was about 65 years ago. My Reality Bag was quite empty at that time, but it filled up rather nicely in the subsequent years. Today it’s busting at the seams! ‘…fear itself,’ as FDR put it. Or, Orwell: Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
Earlier this month, the front page of USA Today led with this headline: Census tracks 20 years of sweeping change. The opening paragraph surely must have sent chills down the spines of the right-wingers in America. It stated:
The USA is bigger, older, more Hispanic and Asian and less wedded to marriage and traditional families than it was in 1990. It also is less enamored of kids, more embracing of several generations living under one roof, more inclusive of same-sex couples, more cognizant of multiracial identities, more suburban, less rural and leaning more to the South and West.
Wow! That’s frightening if one is ‘wedded’ to far-right political and social values. The personal terror level of many must have risen to red that morning as they read the article. It smacks of [gulp!] tolerance and left-of-center ideology. Gosh, what’s a righty to do?? FEAR, that’s what. And pull together in shared ignorance and intolerance. Be afraid, be terribly afraid.
A few days later, readers of the New York Times may have read the Op Ed by Paul Krugman, Republicans Against Science. Krugman said, “The GOP is now aggressively anti-science, indeed, anti-knowledge, which should terrify us.” It would only ‘terrify us’ if we thought that the American Electorate would elect such a candidate as president. I have a bit more confidence than Krugman that Americans are not that stupid.
Back to the USA Today article on the changing demographics of America. Isn’t it refreshing? We are becoming a more tolerant people, not less. Yet remarkably, all of the current GOP presidential candidates are running on the opposite platform. If your stomach can manage to contain its dinner, watch the GOP debate this evening with that idea in mind. What they will say will nearly be the opposite of the findings of the 2010 Census. Of course the far right of the Republican Party [a huge, crowded bulge] doesn’t want to ‘believe’ any of the data laid out by USA Today. The morsels of raw, red meat will be flying across the stage this evening and the hungry audience will mindlessly, animalistically, devour as much as is fed them.
Yet, will it satisfy and allay their fears? Perhaps, if they never extend themselves beyond their clutch of bobbleheads. Ignorance is calming. The 24/7 professional propagandists on AM radio understand the ‘need’ for fear. After all, fear is their common denominator, their Raison d’être. Fearful audiences absorb ‘the message’ much more quickly than those with a much broader vision. And it works. Just look at the rating numbers for right-wing radio as well as FoxNews. There are millions of Americans hooked each day by these professional propagandists who feed fear into the souls and psyche of those on the right. There is money to be made with such an audience, and the profits keep piling up.
Not only that, but interracial marriages.
Is it any wonder that there is great anger, angst and bitterness in those who are stuck on the far-right side of the political spectrum? “Their America” is slipping away and they are not going gently into that good night. Not at all. Rather, they are kicking and screaming that ‘their America’ has been taken from them. And ‘you know who’ is responsible for it all.
It is we, those to the left-of-center, who have allowed all of ‘this’ to happen. We are the agents of destruction of ‘their world.’ We, the more tolerant, the more wide-of-vision are the culprits. This fuels their anger and extends their fear because they know, in their heart of hearts, that America is not going back. ‘Those good old days’ will not return and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that they can do about it.
Who’s afraid. Not I. But there is an angry knot of intolerant, intractable people who cannot change, cannot let go of their fear. Do I have pity on them or do I disdain them? The jury is out.