Monday, August 24, 2015

Angry and Afraid

Well, I’m going down to Doomsville, baby  
And I’m taking you along with me

~ The Rainmakers, “Doomsville”

Something I’ve really been seeing in a lot of far right conservatives lately is this sense of pending doom. We’re all gonna DIEEEEE!

[Disclaimer: I do not believe that all conservatives feel this way. I’m sure there are some exceptions.]

How many of these things have you heard in this infant election cycle? Or in the past few years?

“Obama is destroying this country.”

“We’re in big trouble in this country.”

“We can’t keep going this way.”

“ISIS isn’t going to stop until it raises its flag over the White House.”

“Immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans.”

“We want our country back!”

I’ve heard them all, and I’ve heard them multiple times. When you ask for specifics as to exactly HOW this is happening, you get ClusterFox talking points and more vague pronouncements. When you counter with actual facts, you are sometimes flat-out told, “I don’t believe that.” I guess I just have to accept that once someone gets these notions stuck in their head, nothing I can say is going to change their mind. As someone who values rational, logical thought, that is very hard for me to accept.

What I find most dismaying is a strange and pervasive sense of paranoia, anger, and doom from these folks. I think there are a few players on the scene who can reasonably be accused of fostering that sense of doom, and I’m talking to pretty much all of you pod people at ClusterFox! But I suppose that fear drives ratings. I find that sad. Good journalism is hard to find these days.

There is also a sense of fear of the browns. Like we’ve never had immigrants in this country before! You get people like Trump saying that he’s going to deport every immigrant here illegally, despite the incredible cost to our country. (Then the asskissers jump on the Trumpwagon and agree that it’s a reasonable solution.) There is even talk of negating birthright citizenship from some of our Republican candidates, despite the fact that both Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio would have their citizenship revoked. (Do they not pay attention to this stuff before they say something like that?) There are stories from Steve King of Iowa about Mexican drug-smuggling immigrants and their cantaloupe calves and Phil Gingrey of Georgia saying that immigrants are bringing Ebola into our country. Then there is Trump (again), saying that immigrants are bringing “tremendous infectious disease” across the border. All completely untrue, but there is a subset of people who are falling for these claims hook, line, and sinker.

This sort of xenophobia seems very mean-spirited to me. So much for “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” huh? I’m all for immigration reform, but let’s at least be decent human beings about it instead of blaming these people for any and all of our woes and loading them into cattle cars and shipping them out. At the risk of Godwining myself, you all know who else did that, right? We are seeing this irrational fear of The Other that seems to have its basis in the belief of some of these people that this is their country and no one else’s.

You might think that it started when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, but you’d be wrong. It certainly reached a new high upon his election and reelection, but this sort of xenophobia has been going on for a long time. I’m sure I’ve written before about Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” (If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it.) This fear and distrust has been going on for decades, whether it was directed against blacks, Jews, Catholics, the Irish, or Masons. Apparently our stellar American innovation has, for its latest iteration, recycled the same tired trope to target Hispanics in general and Mexicans in particular. Oh, and don’t forget the Muslims!

I don’t buy it. I don’t feel that anyone is “taking over” our country and that we somehow have to “take it back.” It’s nothing more than fear mongering for the sake of ratings and donations, and I have no patience for it. It makes me sad to see so many suckers falling for it, though.

Angry and afraid is no way to go through life.


  1. Exactly, Beth. Anyone who wants our country to go back to the good old days clearly are delusional. There is no such thing. Never was. Almost everyone remembers the past with rose colored glasses, but the good old days consisted of women staying home, barefoot and pregnant... and those women who dared get pregnant before the sanctity of marriage were sent away. Gays didn't exist. Blacks were thankful for whatever they got... I prefer to look to the future with excitement. Great essay!

  2. ...this is the kind of xenophobia that has had Europe in its grip for the last 20 - 30 years... it took a while to reach this pitch here, but it was bubbling back in the 70's for sure... and the article pointed to '64, which means that the kind of racist appeal from the right just carried over with the WWII Nazi sympathizers (this doesn't qualify as a "Godwin"!)...


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