Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Newt Warns of Doom and Gloom

Have you ever received one of those emails from family or friends that pushes the right-wing culture of fear agenda? I've had the pleasure of receiving many, especially since 9/11.

Here's a gem:

Let me start out with my own warning: Don't be surprised when none of you die from terrorist attacks, or Iranians.

That said, it's fair for Newt to be deeply worried. It's his job. And based on his life's path, it is no wonder that he feels this way. I don't blame him. There are some threats around the world and perhaps in cells in this country, and it is good that there are some people that keep an eye on this, for the time being.

For the rest of us, do we really need to be living in fear? I don't think so. I'd argue that it's not healthy and I would also argue that it we could do our part to safeguard our communities reaching out to the fringes in those communities; the more people that feel part of a place, the fewer of them that are going to want to shoot up a mall or something.

When a turtle, in fear, hides in his shell, how can he make friends? He can't, and he only grows more distrustful of the world outside - this is a defense mechanism.

Folks, we crawled inside a shell after 9/11 and the only times we've come out have been with guns drawn, and we're not going to change places like Saudi Arabia or similar by beating everyone up. School bullies, in the end, are the ones in the principal's office when their tactics catch up with them. I imagine the Sean Hannitys of the world think that the U.S. is the principal. I think there are bullies on both sides here - perhaps God, or fate, or whatever you believe in, is the principal.

Newt can make all the alarmist prophecies he wants. But what can meat and potatoes Americans do with his sage advice but quiver (and be motivated by quivering at the ballot box, thus continuing the current cycle)?

Honestly, touting fear is tired and my fingers are crossed for a different outlook, no matter who delivers it. I'm not saying ignore threats, but leave the threats in capable hands of people in government who won't cram fear down our throats. Rather make us the confident country we once were - heck it might even impact the economy.

Also, the point about Newt being more afraid of terrorists bringing down a city than he was of the Russians during the Cold War is an awfully convenient statement to make, and simple-minded at best. I can't help but think Newt's hindsight is tainted by the fact that he has the security of knowing that we survived the Cold War. Yet the present, by nature of being the present, is a bit unclear. That's why it's the present. It would be like me saying I'm more terrified of a mall shooter today than I was from riding SkyLab at King's Island in the 1980s (which killed one drunken park-goer in the early 90s). No sh*t, SkyLab doesn't exist anymore and is no longer a threat.

I disagree: the systems that the Russians had in place with hundreds or thousands of nuclear-weaponized missiles was far more dangerous than a bunch of low-budget terrorists, or even the Iranians and their goals. 9/11 was a big lottery win for those guys and will not be surpassed in death toll for 50-100 years. (side note: crazy Iranian dude would not trade the destruction of Tehran for the destruction of Tel Aviv. that is ludicrous.)

Finally - since none of us will die from terrorism or from a war with Iran or whatever, why the hell do we spend so much time fearing this? Consider turning off Fox News and switching on that Nightly Business Report show on PBS (is that dude with oiled white hair still hosting, or was he killed by terrorists?) Next year, give up that channel for Lent maybe.

In the words of Conway Bangs,

Stay Tricky.

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