"May you live in interesting times." Yeah, not so much. With the remarkable and deadly attacks in San Bernadino, I feel we have crossed a rubicon of sorts when it comes to the nature of how we American citizens intertact with one another. Now that "ISIS-Al Quaeda-Al Nusra-Whatever" (can you say "Eurasia / Eastasia") has successfully infected an actual American citizen who actually inflicted severe harm on innocent people inside our borders, we are no longer confined in our search for the enemy to those who slink across our venerated borders. Now we have to look askance at each and every one of us, but of course that's not true either. We will only look suspiciously on those of darker complexion who practice a particular religion, and dress a certain way, citizen or not. Despite evidence to the contrary by the way. We currently conflate the much overused "political correctness" with rank racism. Being under threat does not give anyone license to become a total putz.
I have no doubt that there are dangerous people inside this country who seek to do harm to the population to gain infamy for some grand political claim or other. The evidence is overwhelming. God forbid they gain access to nuclear material. But they have been with us forever and a day, but whereas once they were unreconstructed Confederates, Russian anarchists, German Bundists, Japanese Issei, then Red Chinese, and after that Middle Eastern something or other, the accused can often still be American citizens and are still shielded by the rights which are bestowed upon any citizen. We cannot forget that most important fact in our haste to drive from our midst the real threats which do exist. We must put those threats into perspective and take reasonable precautions to guard against attack, but never can we betray what it is to be an American, a land dedicated to individual liberties. We cannot sacrifice what we are in order to protect it.
We are encouraged these days to as they say, "say something" if we "see something". But what are we to look for -- men gathering at a diner, UPS deliveries, target practice. These are the very ordinary things which make up American life. I dread that we will become a nation of fearful prats looking for a scapegoat to shield us from our own cowardice. In a country which will not discuss limiting gun sales to people who are deemed too suspicious to fly on planes, nor restrict VISA applications for folks big business deems necessary but at the same time herd more poor refugees through yet more red-taped avenues, we should be careful not to fall victim to the fear-mongering which pummels us in what passes for modern media.
The fetid frenzy of news coverage which assaulted the popular senses when they were given access to the murderers' home this past weekend is just one example of the stampede which can occur so very swiftly when scared folk make decisions which should be left to cooler heads. Pitiful display of shoddy craftsmanship and smacking of the worst kind of yellow journalism. We must as a nation display more poise in the face of threat which is real but far far from existential, unless that harm is what we do to ourselves.
Yesterday was the anniversary of what a real and true threat to the nation looked like. We would do well to remember that.
P.S. I wrote this piece before Donald Trump's most recent outrageous comments about forbidding further Muslim immigration into the United States. It is exactly this type of vile demagoguery which President Obama has tried to forestall by refusing to utter those words his critics demand of him, that we fight a full-blown world religion and not some spurious and deadly species hatred which uses religion to hide behind. Donald Trump has well and truly declared himself unfit to lead the United States. He is to be rebuked and rejected by his fellow Republicans, just as so many of them constantly cry for the Muslim community to reject the extremists in their ranks. What goes around, comes around.
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