Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fear Itself

This is what you get when your culture is taken over by fear:

Man arrested after shooting at "zombie," nearly striking sleeping man in his home.

In this case, the shooter was probably drunk, and he was definitely outside at 5 a.m. with an AR-15 over his shoulder, full of bullets designed to expand. This is what we're coming to. In North St. Paul, I might add.

Many people have written about how the zombie cultural moment is inspired by fear of real "others" -- especially people of color and immigrants, in an age of economic uncertainty and over-hyped terrorism.

Manipulating the public through fear is not unique to Donald Trump (remember Stephen Colbert's 2010 Rally to Restore Fear?), but Trump works it harder and less subtly than others in the recent past (I'd say since, oh, maybe 1930s Germany).

This Texas Observer story about Trump supporters is revealing on that topic. As the writer observes, "Trump has provided a dark, dank hole into which these folks can dump whatever it is they’re mad about." But when he gets down to it, the thing that his East Texas neighbors are mad about is having their guns taken away, and that's based on fear:

It’s a jungle out there. At least, to hear the Republicans tell it. But what it’s really about, in earthier conservative circles, is a chance for people to feel important, to think they are standing on the lines of freedom, fighting back the zombie hordes. What drives these folks is fear; but for many, it’s a delicious fear.

It’s a chance for the bored and disappointed to play army, a way to justify having tons of guns and ammunition. They feel that if not for their vigilance, dead-eye aim, and concealment due to camouflaged pants and a Duck Dynasty cap, we would be standing on the edge of a precipice looking into the bowels of hell.

This view, well sold to many, has contributed mightily to the current rabid gun culture. People I know, this is all they talk about: stopping power, how far you can sight a target, and having a stock sturdy enough to crack a skull at close quarters when you run out of about a zillion bullets.

Guns are a symbol of fear, but they are also a symbol of power, a way for the everyday person to feel important and potent, to be a participant in the great game show of life. Guns have replaced the previous religion of Texas, which was football, and Trump is the high priest. Fear sells, and it stimulates. Trump and his cronies constantly tell us, without actual facts, how bad crime is and how evil all foreigners are — especially if they dress funny — and they repeat over and over the false information that the economy is on the verge of collapse and you better build that bunker and stock up, because if you don’t, all you’ll have for protection from the certain rise of crazed liberals is harsh language.

This is a world so many conservative Republicans feel they can control. A frightened world.
I don't know where we go with this once Clinton wins the election. If 20 percent of the country, and 50 or more percent in many parts of the country, feel this way, how do we change the direction of the spiral into cultural insanity?

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