The Dissident Aggressor
A couple of weeks ago, I was having tea with a friend of mine who was preparing to return to his hometown of Benghazi. The conversation meandered through the complexities of the Libyan uprising, and the constant barrage of its media coverage. Like a circling vulture, as is my wont, I pounced on the chance for a 15-minute soapbox rant about how they sold us out. And although my friend agreed in principle, he did relate a particularly interesting story about a good friend of his back home. This man once had a strange dream, a dream in which he was dubbed King of Libya. In a passing conversation, he told a co-worker at the oil refinery about the dream and thought nothing more of it. That is until two days later when police officers pulled him out of his home and arrested him. 7 years later, he was released from prison.
The story highlights how fortunate we are in this country, and in most of the Western world for that matter. Our governments don’t really give a shit how much we talk about the dreams of our own kingdoms. But since the heady days of Red Dawn, I have become aware of a particularly disturbing trend. Our governments don’t really give a shit for the simple reason that they don’t really need to. It’s “we the people” who do the job for them, sometimes with their deft prodding, and sometimes on our own.
During the 2nd Iraq War, I was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather at a San Jose Earthquakes soccer game. Just as in every other game, the national anthem was played. As a result of recent events, I was unsurprisingly irritated with my government, so I refused to rise for the Star Spangled Banner. At first, things were civil. People gently asked me to stand. But I still refused. Soon, the situation escalated, and a volley of taunts came in. Then the ice. Then the beer. The Shock and Awe Doctrine in full effect. Afterward, I reflected upon this, and asked the simple question. How far have we really come since the Red Scare of the 20’s?
Since 2001, the level of hatred in a large slice of the populace has once again spiked; anti-Muslim sentiment is at an all-time high – and this nearly 50 years after the tempestuous Civil Rights movement. Shit, now we even have Congressmen holding McCarthyesque hearings regarding the danger that American Muslims pose to America. WTF? Once again. WTF? 234 years into our ridiculously short history, and we already have several precedents to mull over, that is if we bothered. The resurgence of the Klan in the roaring 20’s. The Saccho-Vanzetti trial. The many examples of anti-communist backlashes within the last 90 years. And let’s not forget the Japanese-American internment camps during the Second World War.
Invariably, the loudest voices heard are also the ones that spit the most venom. Glenn Beck. Bill O’Reilly. Michael Savage. And of course the king of American hatemongers, Rush Limbaugh. These crusaders of hate have only one purpose. To sabotage the inherent logical processes built within your brain, and make you give in to fear. But this fear, my friend, this fear is nothing if not the oppressor of freedom. It limits your thoughts, and as a result, limits your pathways. This fear – though not on a scale of fascist Italy or Nazi Germany – is still cut from the same cloth. The same algortihm lies underneath.
10) Bitch about how fucked up everything is.
20) Find a source, the scapegoat.
30) Blame the source, the poor scapegoat, for all of society’s ills.
40) Magnify the threat.
50) Convince others to act against the threat…before it’s too late.
60) Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
70) Wash the blood stains from your trousers.
Oh, how things were so much better before so and so fucked it up.
Bullshit! Things were not necessarily better. For some groups, in fact, things were exponentially worse. This is your own whimsical rewriting of the past. Your antebellum South. Your pre-labor industry. Your salad days of 1926. No, no. Not based on truth. Not based on reality. But instead based on raging hysteria. Look inside, my friend, deep inside the recesses of your mind. Have the processes been sabotaged? Are your fears reasonable? Are they real? Or are they merely phantasms, unfounded and unwarranted? Heed my warning. Do not make the same mistakes of the past. Do not give into the hysteria. Do no give into the fear. For you will only knock on your own door, and drag yourself off to that self-made prison. And the government won’t have to do shit, Your Highness.