Paranoia, Fear, Prejudice…what are they? They are very simply, negative EMOTIONAL states. The rational mind is frozen, led by the nose by the “instinctive run or be eaten” part of our primal brain that our very distant ancestors needed for survival.
For a moment, for years, or for a lifetime, it can rack the minds of its owner and worst yet, collectively, a whole population (ie., the mob mentality). The ‘us vs. them’ mindset is the perfect atmosphere for charlatans and ego-centric politicians to whip up supporters, with sound bytes as rallying cries. I’ve already talked about the tea partiers in another post, so we won’t go there. But this mind pollution has tentacles.
In Arizona, they’re pulling people over who look Hispanic, just in case they might be illegal immigrants (which is absolutely nuts as there is an overwhelming population of Hispanic Americans residing in that state). The same people who are screaming about our taxes are now cheering as we pay law enforcement big bucks to play “Big Brother” to fight against the illegal “aliens”. And they don’t find this shoveling “you know what” against the tide? Us vs. them will not work.
Osama Bin Laden must be gleeful. The politicians and other pundits have gotten us riled about over the Islamic Center in Manhattan. He planted the seeds of terror and we ourselves are watering them. He doesn’t even have to tend the horrifically evil garden he planted.
It was our founding fathers’ explicit wish and was thoughtfully constructed in our Constitution, by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin, that our nation would be a place where everyone (Christians, Jews, and Muhammadans (as John Adams refered to them) could have houses of worship and practice as their conscience dictates (never mind community centers). Us vs. them will not work.
We moderates better be careful. When we sat by and thought the lunatic temperance movement would pass, we got Prohibition (There would have been no wine for Nun Tuck) . Over the years, paranoia has gotten us McCarthyism, interned Japanese Americans, racism, classicism, sexism and every other ism.
I’d like to close this frustrated rant with two excerpts from a RATIONAL editorial by John Buchanan in the Christian Century (Sept. 21) :
“In his New York Times column (August 22), Nicholas Kristof wrote about the controversy over the proposal to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan: “For much of American history, demagogues have manipulated irrational fears toward people of minority religious beliefs, particularly Catholics and Jews…Today’s crusaders against the Islamic Community Center are promoting a similar paranoid intolerance, and one day we will be ashamed of it.”…”The most tragic dimension of that irrational fear is the way it is exploited by politicians. I cannot comprehend how otherwise sane and thoughtful people can conclude that an Islamic community center two blocks away from Ground Zero is inappropriate-not to mention dangerous. It’s not a mosque and it’s not on the site of the World Trade Center twin towers, but even if it were, the right of all Americans to pray and worship how and who and where they choose is one of the most important rights and values of our nation. It is not negotiable.”
Who are we REALLY…as a people, as a nation?