The Blogful of Salt

Responding to Manufactured Fear

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Whitman Nerudaby Whitman Neruda

This is in response to the Aug. 13 Inlander article, “Manufacturing Fear.”

First, our view as progressives is this: we don’t want big, intrusive government; we want an effective, responsive government and a human-scaled, people-first economy. We want to mid-wife a transformed America adept at non-violent communication and the skills that negotiate our differences, much in the way of a good marriage, out of love and respect.

We believe everyone has the right to talk about injustice, perceived or experienced.

The problem is too many people on both sides agitate and exaggerate, fear mongering and slandering their way through cyber space. They appear psychologically addicted to the adrenalin of hate.

To find the true balance of justice, we must first measure our words. This demonstrates a sincerity of intention towards solutions based upon mutual respect.

We believe the vast majority of humanity simply wants to live in peace and be productive, loved by family and friends in an environmentally clean and safe world.

We want law enforcement to be responsive not reactive, to increase their cultural competency, not stockpile the latest weapons. We need them to recognize crime is not the problem, crime is a reaction to the problem–the problem of institutionalized racism, poverty in a corporate state, an absence of political freedom for workaday people. We need them to understand (and recognize) acting out behaviors and bear witness to the suffering of the people, not gun them down for acting it out. Life brings pain, no one escapes that, but suffering is political.

The rancorous divisions among conservatives illustrates the limits of an exhausted ideology built on militarism and threat of violence, the idea of martyrdom (something all religious extremists share).

It is a failure of our society that for many white, working-class youth the only form of empowerment available to them is weapons, an idea promoted by Christian extremists online, a tactic mirroring the ISIS playbook.

Some conservatives have a valid point when they voice concern that the Holiday and Heroes event on Wal-Mart property de-sensitizes youth to the presence of military equipment in everyday life. We hope for this reason they also oppose the idea of posting armed police in our local high schools.

However, the roaring silence and indifference from conservatives whenever police gun down unarmed black and brown people robs their political viewpoints and Christian identification of any moral credibility. Jesus, after all, walked his talk.

We agree with former state Sen. John Smith that the violent rhetoric spewed by raging conservatives can’t be dismissed as harmless hyperbole; someone will always act out the call to arms and violence.

Bullies on the playground or on the street are acting out their own sense of impotence. The only anti-dote to that is a renewal of human spirit; the flip side of the paranoid, conspiracy theory viewpoint is the recognition of humanity’s interrelatedness and interdependence. No one survives alone. So why not work together to solve our problems?

Too many right-wingers promoted a narcissistic view of America using words like exceptionalism. But the only greatness is spiritual and we hope Americans will soon begin to aspire to behavior which is a conscious articulation of the values within that understanding: non-violence, respect, cooperation.

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