Afraid? Moi?

Terrorists terrorize. That’s their job description. Those terrorizing terrorists terrify people. The only question they ask themselves when they go to bed at night is: Did I terrorize enough people today?

Meanwhile, for your listening pleasure, a small dose of appropriate paranoia.

So, boys and girls, how do the terrorists win? They win when people are terrorized. Conversely, they do not win when people are not terrorized. They do not win when people go about their daily lives, basking in the freedom they have been vouchsafed, cherishing their parents and embracing their children, demonstrating the civic virtues of tolerance, patience, love.

So are the terrorists winning?

Our police have been so militarized that they resemble occupying armies. The government increasingly insists on overriding privacy rights in the name of tenuous national security concerns. Our schools are fortresses, our children are armed, our Muslims are harassed, jailed, beaten.

We are terrified. The terrorists have won.

Fear is useful in presidential politics. Republican candidates are outdoing themselves in outlining the immense dimensions of the threat. Every woman in a head scarf is a potential suicide bomber; every man in a turban is likely to shoot up a church.  (Even though the guy is probably a Sikh and thus: Not a Muslim).  Also, black people are prowling the streets looking for your credit cards. Better not let them vote.

With all due respect to the the victims of terrorism in New York and San Bernardino, Islamic Jihadists are not a large threat in this country.  There are many things threatening Americans, including gun violence, poverty and sugar. Alas, fighting those things is not popular, so let’s fight Islamic terrorists instead.

ISIS is grotesque, but it’s not the only grotesque entity occupying the Middle East. It’s a foreign policy nightmare, and it’s going to end real badly, and we should help our allies — if we can find any. We should also continue to grapple with our national legacy of genocide and slavery. But, you know, turn off the TV. Prune your Facebook and Twitter lists.  Find someone in need and give them money, shelter, succor.


And vote like someone who isn’t afraid. Because then the terrorists will lose.


Photography by Tracy Johnston

Nuggets of advice from Michelle “Press the blue button” Mizera

Cheer up! Listen!

16 thoughts on “Afraid? Moi?

  1. Thank you for the reminder to all those who seem to insist on being fearful…of everything, it seems. How perfect to add the link to the Wilburys, some of the happiest music ever made.


  2. Jon,

    Listening to Betty Driver sing “The World Will Sing (again)” while reading the latest column. Nice reminder that fear isn’t new. Lots of scary thing in the world during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

    But thanks to screaming television, a 24/7 news cycle with fierce competition to be “on the air” fast, and social media hash tags, we’re making Mr. Pulitzer look like a responsible journalist.

    My 2015 New Year’s Resolution was very simple. If I can’t read about it then I don’t need to know about it. So KCSM instead of KCBS in the car. NO television news programs.

    Much calmer now. Much more aware that I’m in greater danger driving to the Y than I am from any kind of attack by another human being.

    But you did forget to mention the constant “danger” we face from all those “rapists and murders” coming over our southern border. You know the ones. The 10 year old refugee kids from Honduras and Guatemala.

    Or maybe that’s another posting.


  3. I’m not sure that the role of terrorism is to terrorize. If you look at it historically, it is something people do to rally their core constituencies. The actual results of terrorism — like the actual results of the War on Drugs — aren’t really important.

    I’m also not yet convinced that San Bernardino really had anything to do with Islamic Jihadists. Maybe we will eventually learn more about it and that will turn out to be the case, but from what little I’ve read it seems more likely to have been the usual American workplace shooting where people get bent out of shape for some (or no) reason and then act out in extreme ways. That they happened to have had some Islamic Jihadist tendencies may have been unrelated to this.

    Can you really say that San Bernardino was less about psychological issues than any of the other mass shootings we have all the time?


    1. Terrorism typically induces a reaction by the country that was attacked — a reaction that often generates more terrorists, and thus more terrorism. Terrorism begets terrorism begets terrorism — so in that sense, “the actual results of terrorism” really are important.


  4. I feel like I just want to do something to help, in general. I read about, a funding site where we can help support someone who needs to pay for a medical procedure. Every single penny goes to a person in need. It seems like a good investment to me.


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