13. If we want to be the kind of nation that others will follow,— Phil Klay (@PhilKlay) November 19, 2015
14. the kind of nation capable of forging strong links in the Muslim world against extremism,— Phil Klay (@PhilKlay) November 19, 2015
15. then we have to behave like that kind of nation. I get that people are scared.— Phil Klay (@PhilKlay) November 19, 2015
16. But it's only during frightening times when you get to find out if your country really deserves to call itself the 'home of the brave.'— Phil Klay (@PhilKlay) November 19, 2015
However, as Paul Krugman notes, Americans -- or at least right-wing Americans -- don't want to act like citizens of "the home of the brave":
The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But [Erick] Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”And it's not just fear of (carefully screened) refugees that instills fear in conservatives, as Krugman notes:
Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.Krugman has a theory about this:
What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.But why go apocalyptic? I'd say it's for a couple of reasons.
Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.
Some of the people who think they're in mortal danger immediately pat themselves on the back for their brave stand against the folks who are threatening them. I'm the target! they think. I'm the center of the universe! This story is all about me! An example of this is Townhall's Kurt Schlichter, who lives in lovely Manhattan Beach, California. He tweeted on the night of the Paris attacks:
Loaded 5 magazines as I watched the news reports. When they come here - and they will come here - we are the front line fighters. #2A— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) November 14, 2015
The same could be said of Erickson (who thinks ISIS is coming to get him in Macon, Georgia) -- though he's not even pretending to be brave:
I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.In this case, the message is: I'm being targeted here in Macon, Georgia, by an enemy so dangerous even I, an armed True Patriot, might not be equal to it. Damn you, Obama!
I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.
There are no metal detectors at American theaters.
I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.
It always comes back to conservatism's domestic political enemies.
Fear, of course, drives voters to the polls -- that's why Republicans win all the non-presidential elections, and why they get something like 47% of the vote or more in all the presidential elections, no matter what blithering idiot they nominate. Democrats are urged to vote against Republicans because Republican policies are misguided; Republicans are urged to vote against Democrats because otherwise we're all going to die, or at least lose all of our freedoms.
Electorally, fear works. And day-to-day Republican rhetoric lays the groundwork for moments like this -- if you're already being told every day that President Obama is trying to kill you and destroy your freedoms, and then a deadly virus hits (a few people in) America or a terrorist cell strikes at a place (vaguely) similar to your hometown, you're already primed.
So expect more cowardice. It's a winning strategy.