11/16/2015 – The Fear Toxin

I’ve been thinking not about the tragedy in Paris specifically, but about the inevitable reaction to it and how sad it makes me. Because, from my admittedly limited point of view, it seems that we as a global society always play right into the hands of these people. And by “these people”, I mean the psychotic fucks who feel justified in killing innocents to make whatever point it is they’re trying to make.

It’s complex and I’m dumb. But I do have a few thoughts about the whole situation. The first thing I saw after the attacks was the old “they hate our freedom” line; the same line that W used back in 2001. “They’re freedom haters. We’re freedom lovers”, etc. I don’t think it can be reduced to something that simple. I mean, it’s almost something you’d tell a child as means of explanation, isn’t it? And I think to understand the whole picture we have to look at our actions in the Middle East and wonder. I wonder what it must be like for people in that region to be displaced, occupied, exploited, and oftentimes murdered by inside and outside forces. For decades. If you look closely on any news website, maybe the tenth or eleventh headline down – you know, after the pics of Bieber’s dick and whatnot – you’ll probably see a blurb about a drone attack gone wrong or an errant missile taking out a dozen or so people in some Middle Eastern village. And, if you’re like me, you’ll scratch your nuts, take a drink of your $5 coffee, and click over to some picture promising celebrity boobs. Because I live in a cul-de-sac and the most aggravating thing I have to deal with on any given day is whether or not my WiFi connection will cut out on me. And when it comes back, I click on the news again, see something like the Paris attacks and think, “What the fuck is wrong with those assholes?”

Let’s pump the brakes. I’m not laying the blame back on us. Does violence beget violence? I believe so. But I’m not saying we are to blame for 9/11, the Paris attacks, or any other act of violence supposedly committed in the name of some invisible deity. But here we are, as I said, playing right into their hands. Should the French have bombed the shit out of ISIS the next day? Yeah, probably. But we shouldn’t be cheering them on, cocks in hand with our middle fingers pointing toward Mecca.

And I’m not apologizing for Islam or even defending it. Fact is, I don’t give a fuck about it or any religion. Press me long enough and I may tell you nothing good has ever come from it. But what I’m most sickened by is the way in which people are already using the Paris tragedy to justify their xenophobia and outright bigotry. We currently have twelve governors (and counting) who are encouraging a ban on Syrian refugees. We have at least two presidential candidates who have agreed that only Christian refugees should be allowed into the country. And we have another “presidential candidate” who has advocated the closure of all mosques in the United States as a result of the attacks. And all of these people have made these statements to cheering crowds all over the country.

I should backtrack. I said it was sickening. In reality, I guess I’m not sickened by it. I’m just exhausted. I want to throw my hands up in the air and just say, “Fuck it.” It never ceases to amaze me how little self-awareness people have to not realize that they will someday be depicted as the angry mob led by the opportunist politician in a future Oscar-winning movie.

And these are the people who supposedly worship a guy who’s most well-known trait was compassion. Yet they are too cynical to put themselves in the shoes of a family so desperate to escape the violence and destruction of their homeland that they pack up to a refugee camp and jump on a boat across the ocean only to be greeted by a frenzied throng of strangers convinced that this frightened family represents the very violence they’re trying to escape. (Did that sentence make sense? Whatever. You get it.)

Again, it’s complex and I tend to fall on the side of optimism. Do we need to do our due diligence when letting in thousands of refugees? Absolutely. But do we completely shut the door and tell them to fuck off? I’m not so sure. The whole thing just makes me sad. Because if my cozy little cul-de-sac were to turn into a war zone, I would hope I could rely on my fellow humans to give me the benefit of the doubt and allow me to have the chance to give my children a better life.

-John

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