Fear Won’t Fix Anything

“The government should spend more time dealing with illegal guns and actual proto-terrorists than crawling up the shorts of legal gun owners who aren’t visiting radical Islamic websites. Yes, Virginia, that’s profiling.”

Depending on who is talking, we should either fear our neighbors because they attend a mosque or we should fear our neighbors because they have scary guns. Or we should fear our neighbors because they are gay, or we should fear our neighbors because they are Christian.

I have non-Christian family members who point to the Westboro Baptist Church whose idiotic rants against gays AND Muslims are enough to paint any Christ follower with tar and run them through the chicken house. Many liberals are so infused with divisive bias that they can’t even agree with conservatives who want to agree with them.

Me: “The sky is blue today.”

Liberal: “You only say that because you hate gays.”

Me: “No, really, the sky is blue.”

Liberal: “Stop threatening me! You hater!”

It’s no different going the other direction. Ask some extreme libertarians if it’s okay for the government to restrict people being investigated for terrorist connections by the FBI from buying a SIG Sauer MCX and a few thousand rounds of 5.56mm ball ammo–or at least raise a flag, and they yell “liberty hater!” in your face.

I, for one, don’t want to walk around all day fearing my neighbors, or the people at the Walmart because a woman is wearing a Burqa. I don’t want to be a one-man paranoia police, dialing 911 every time a guy at work opens his trunk and looks both ways first. I don’t want to unfriend people on Facebook because they’re from Iran or Syria, or because they go to a mosque.

This is a long story, but stick with me.

Years ago, when I ran an ISP, I was involved in an investigation of a hacking crime. The criminal wasn’t a genius. We had lots of evidence. But when the detective came by he noted that the address where the then-teenager lived was on the “watch list” so they went with a no-knock warrant.

I rode along with the cops on their raid and was told to “stay put” in the back of the detective’s squad car. I sat there for it seemed like an eternity and decided to stretch my legs. As I did, the kid and his mom’s felon boyfriend were brought out, handcuffed, looking right at yours truly in the face.

It turns out the felon had an SKS rifle (one of those scary “assault” rifles, which is also quite good for hunting) and a few thousand rounds of 7.62mm Warsaw Pact style ammunition. He was probably going away for a stay at one of Georgia’s state prisons. But before he did, he managed to walk into my office at work–straight in through the lobby, and stand in front of my desk.

I wasn’t in the mood to be conversational or charitable. I told him I couldn’t talk to him and he had to leave. He spoke his peace and left. I called the detective, who chuckled “Yeah, he shouldn’t have done that.” No s**t, Sherlock, I thought. At the time I was unarmed at my desk. I owned a pistol but didn’t carry it. This dude could have come in my office and blown a big ol’ hole in my head, I thought.

For the next six months, I was armed. All the time. Everywhere. Literally everywhere. I kept a spare loaded pistol in my desk. When we moved our office, I insisted on the latest alarm and entry control technology. We had steel doors installed that would stop a 12-gauge shotgun blast. We used man-traps so people couldn’t walk through two doors without one being closed behind.

In short, I was scared s**tless and lived that way.

I eventually realized it wasn’t solving anything. If someone wanted to wait, hidden, for me to leave my fortress and bushwhack me, they could do exactly that. I wasn’t the POTUS and didn’t have Secret Service protection. Living in fear was simply not helpful.

Politicians whipping up fear is singularly unhelpful to our country. Whether it’s President Obama railing on about access to guns, or Donald Trump’s humblebrags about being right about Islamic terror, fear simply pushes people further into their own prejudices and polarizes our country.

David French wrote that our worldviews between places like New York City and Tennessee were so different as to be almost unrecognizable to each other.

You can live your entire life in Manhattan without knowing people who own a gun or attend an Evangelical church. You can’t spend a day in Columbia without talking to a pistol-packing Baptist. We watch different things. We read different things. We believe different things.

We may believe different things, but we are not different people. The greatness of America is in our motto: E Pluribus Unum; From Many, One.

When the president tells us that words don’t matter and naming radical Islam as a foe doesn’t accomplish anything in fighting the Islamic State, he’s doing a terrible disservice to the country. When the press narrative is so slanted as to blame the Orlando shooting on a mentally ill, closet gay man versus a terrorist inspired by radical Islam, they are doing a terrible disservice to the country.

Because if we are not clear on who the enemy is, then we have to fear everyone. ISIS is here, actively recruiting Muslims who are looking for something more than just football on Sunday and a culture headed toward complete hedonism. But we’re told that they are a persecuted class, because a boy with a fake bomb homemade clock got arrested (which was a set up).

When the president tells us that guns are the problem, yet there are more guns in America than citizens and we don’t see a hundred million dead by guns each year, we need to question if he’s peddling fear–or wanting to look Eurocool to the world by making American culture fit in.

American culture is unique in the world. We would no more give up our guns than work 25 hour work weeks with mandated six week vacations in the summer and an 80 percent tax rate. Encouraging a percentage of the population to fear guns and gun owners simply because some rifle looks scary to them is, frankly, stupid.

It’s as dumb as telling people they should fear Americans who go to a mosque instead of a church. We should have common sense and a sense of caution, not fear. We shouldn’t fear being pilloried by the media because we called the FBI or local police to report someone in the neighborhood acting strangely–or talking about killing people. We shouldn’t fear being hassled or locked up because we’re looking at a gun website on our smartphone in the airport.

The government should spend more time dealing with illegal guns and actual proto-terrorists than crawling up the shorts of legal gun owners who aren’t visiting radical Islamic websites. Yes, Virginia, that’s profiling.

When President Bush was in office, and 9/11 happened, the government’s response was to create this Leviathan DHS agency to tame the Hydra, but instead all it did was increase the fear–so now we have to fear the government too. The government’s reflex is always to legislate its way out of a crisis and to use fear as its leverage.

Might I suggest a different approach. Let’s choose not to fear each other. Let’s choose to agree with those who differ from us in areas where we can agree. I think Trump is closer to this ideal than Obama–his problem is the garbage he hauls in his wake reacts to dog whistles. Obama’s faithful refuse to see any side but their own.

I see it when House Democrats tried to throw an LGBT-friendly amendment into the NDAA–the annual military spending bill. Speaker Ryan clamped down on last-minute amendments, so now they’re claiming Republicans are anti-gay. It’s political grandstanding and fear-mongering (and the Democrats accuse Republicans of fear-mongering on Iran, ISIS, immigration, you-name-it).

It’s a shame because we have a real opportunity to do something useful coming out of this attack on America.

 

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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