Fear and Loathing

Sunday, October 24, 2010 :: Tagged under: pablolife. ⏰ 3 minutes.

Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄

Glenn Greenwald has another winner, this time over the firing of Juan Williams after his "I's afraid of Muslins!" kerfuffle. His article is great by describing the general trend of fear and loathing in America:

To start with, as a general proposition, it's vital that the American citizenry always be frightened of some external (and relatedly internal) threat. Nothing is easier, or more common, or more valuable, than inducing people to believe that one discrete minority group is filled with unique Evil, poses some serious menace to their Safety, and must be stopped at all costs. The more foreign-seeming that group is, the easier it is to sustain the propaganda campaign of fear. [...]

"The Muslims" are currently the premier, featured threat which serves that purpose, following in the footsteps of the American-Japanese, the Communists, the Welfare-Stealing Racial Minorities, the Gays, and the Illegal Immigrants. Many of those same groups still serve this purpose, but their scariness loses its luster after decades of exploitation and periodically must be replaced by new ones.

The terrorists have won, guys. They flew a few planes, destroyed some buildings, killed a couple thousand people. It was our idiotic scared reactions which drove us to record deficits, torture, fewer civil liberties, a surveillance state, and participation in the two longest foreign wars in US history, which killed more of our people than the planes did (not to mention Iraqis/Afghans). And we're still scared.

It's simple advice, sadly still relevant: Refuse to be terrorized. Stop playing into their hands and for Baal's sake, grow up.

On the theme of cultural Paul-is-grouchy, Dan Savage has an exchange, followed by another, from Good Christians who wish he'd just stop being so mean! He (rightly) tells them to shut up and wake up:

I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.

No, wait. I'm not. Gay kids are dying. So let's try to keep things in perspective: fuck your feelings.

A question: do you support atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All legal, of course, and there's no Christian movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or to people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not? [...]

The children of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or at your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. You may only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, but your children have the option of attacking actual real gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners." Real gay and lesbian children.

It's required reading. As someone who also doesn't keep silent on the horrors of irrational thinking (usually religious or religiously motivated), I too tire of the "stop being so mean, Paul!" line. Really guys, all I do is report the news. If you aren't completely outraged, you aren't paying attention. And any offended religious folk should probably be pointing their ire elsewhere, since I'm normally reacting to egregious events. The "don't be offended at me" angle was the genius of this song:

While not religious, also relevant:

xkcd comic

I know we all want to be friends and not have anybody's feelings hurt, but kids, some shit is just stupid. And I'll call it that.

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