Friday, November 20, 2015


In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Phil Klay -- an Iraq War combat veteran and the author of the National Book Award-winning short story collection Redeployment -- took to Twitter to upbraid Americans for their fear of Syrian refugees. The following tweets in particular should inspire a lot of people to think seriously about what they've been saying in the past week (but won't):

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.

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.
But why go apocalyptic? I'd say it's for a couple of reasons.

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:

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.

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.
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!

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.


Victor said...

Erick Erickson (he, of the more "chins" than the Hong Kong phone directory!) doesn't need to worry being killed by a terrorist in the near future.

Not only is Macon, GA, an extremely unlikely target, but Muslim terrorists haven't yet stooped to using harpoons to kill our jumbo-sized "White Whale) crackers.

Why would this bigoted and hate and fear filled twit want to go to see the newest "Star Wars" movie?
Erick, you cowardly joker, it's, "May the 'Force' be with you...", not 'May the farce be with you..."
"Death Stars" and "The Empire" are the bad guys - like you - and not the heroes!

Sadly, we're no longer "the home of the brave" - we're now 'the home of the derp.'

Besides, all of you terrified Reich-Wingers, if you go to a movie theater, you're much more likely to be shot and killed by some lonely psychopathic white guy with more guns than brain cells - probably, a "Christian" one at that - than you are by a Muslim terrorist.

Jayzoos H. Keeeeerist hiding in a bomb-shelter, does any one of you easily terrified Reich-Wingers have any balls?!?!?!?!?!?!
(And by balls, I don't mean sending someone else's children to die in another war in the Middle East, just because your Mama scared you when she read you "One Thousand and One Arabian Nights" when you were merely a pup).

Somewhere, one of your heroes, John Wayne - who, himself, dodged serving in the military in WWII and Korea - is laughing at you, you chickenshit assclowns!!!

Glennis said...

When they come here - and they will come here - we are the front line fighters.

I'm reminded of the right wing gas bag who claimed, after 9/11, that he was in a combat zone because he had an office in the Empire State Building.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

If you read the comments, Steve, you need to correct this:
"that's why Republicans will all the non-presidential elections"

Steve M. said...

Thanks -- fixed now.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Manhattan Beach? I grew up there. Rich. White. Privileged. Of course those people do drive down Manhattan Beach Blvd. to visit on weekends and holidays. Scary times, then.