November 27, 2011

Be very scared. Then be smart.

Be very scared.

That's the message from extremists on the right and the left. Take Israel, where the right wing warns of Israel's destruction if any concessions are made to Palestinians, or "terrorists" as they call them. For the left wing, the actions of the right are putting Israel on the path to its own destruction. So everyone acts out of fear, except for the soft middle which is alternatively attacked by both sides as either treasonous or abetting genocide.

In the United States, where half of all registered Republicans still doubt that President Obama was born in the United States, right-wing fear of all authority is palpable. This may explain why the Second Amendment "right to bear arms" has become such a GOP rallying cry. On the left, the idea that most Republican candidates for President deny the science of climate change and evolution -- or the comparative track records of Keynesian vs. supply-side economics -- is serious cause for alarm. The possibility of a reversal of Roe v. Wade is chilling, even for some Republicans.

Fear is a poor consideration when making existential choices. People sometimes tell me of their fear -- of Muslims, Palestinians, minorities -- and seemingly expect me to support their (usually right-wing) political agenda because of that fear. From my perspective, expressing one's fear is an admission of vulnerability, not a way to make the case for one's own political stand. It's all right to admit your fears to others, but don't expect them to agree with you just because you're scared. Fear no longer needs to be a badge of shame, but it's still no claim to glory.

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