The Land of the Stupid and the Home of the Scared


If we follow the lead of the GOP presidential candidates, the governors of 31 states and various candidates for higher office, we may as well stop singing the national anthem, or to be honest, change the words. Politicians who want to exploit the terroristic tragedies in Paris and in other places around the world to win votes based on fear are reprehensible. They have shown their true priorities, a willingness to say anything for a blessed vote.
On Friday, November 13, 2015, 129 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded in coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, the city of lights. Ongoing investigations have shown that one of the dead terrorists may have been carrying a Syrian passport that, at this writing, is thought to be a forgery. With that scant information, presidential candidates and the fore -mentioned governors have been rushing to say they do not want Syrian refugees coming to their states because the Syrians pose a security threat.
PLEASE. Give me a blessed break.
These people must think that We the People of the United States are stupid or that we have the memory of a mayfly, and its entire life expectancy is only one to twenty-four hours. These politicians must believe that the late Gore Vidal was right when he called the USA the United States of Amnesia. When we consider the acts of terror in the United States, I do not know of any that were perpetrated by refugees. The 9/11 attackers were not refugees but had come into the country as visitors. The Boston Marathon bombers were not refugees. Timothy McVeigh was a United States citizen.
And then, there are all of the mass shootings in the United States that do not count as terrorism because there is no ideological or political basis for the violence, but are no less random and deadly. We have seen mass shootings in elementary school, high school, and on college and university campuses. We have seen them in movie theaters, at outside events, and church. When these mass shootings happen, the same people who are talking tough about keeping the awful threat of Syrian refugees out of their states, and the GOP presidential candidates, shrug their shoulders and say there is nothing we can do about people with mental health problems who get their hands on a gun and do terrible things. After all, we have to respect the second amendment. The contradictory logic is stupid. It calls what is not a threat a threat, and it resigns itself to the true threat with a “stuff happens’ nonchalance.
When we think of the terrorist organization that is the most deadly, it is not Daesh. Boko Haram in Nigeria is the most deadly. ( We know this organization from its kidnapping of Nigerian school girls that prompted the #bringbackourgirls campaign. Some of the girls ran away and returned home, but most did not. Boko Haram uses them as unwilling suicide bombers to blow up vegetable and fruit markets. Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to Daesh, but as far as officials know, they neither take orders from Daesh nor coordinate with it.
While Boko Haram is the most deadly terrorist group, we hear no calls for bombing in Nigeria or for a US led coalition of ground forces to invade Nigeria. Daesh beheaded Americans and showed the videos on the Internet. They kidnapped and killed Americans. Now they have attacked Paris. The 24/7 war journalism we get wants President Obama to talk tough, to change the rules of engagement, and military experts tell us how we need more warriors fighting the battle against Daesh. The media has settled on a narrative, that President Obama underestimated Daesh, and his strategy is not working therefore he must change the strategy, and the only questions they know to ask are rooted in this narrative. At a news conference in Turkey, three different reporters asked the same question three times in a row, and President Obama gave the same answer. When reporting on the news conference, commentators said the President was “defensive” about his policy.
I saw the opposite. I say a president who has seen intelligence reports we have not seen, gotten briefing from his generals that we have not gotten, and has concluded that it is not wise to send hundreds or thousands of American warriors to fight in Syria. The war journalists never ask the most obvious questions: how many warriors will fight? How many estimated casualties? How long will they stay? How much will it cost?
Black lives matter. There has been some consternation on social media about all the attention that has been given to the deaths in Paris when the world and American media barely mentions the more numerous deaths in Africa. I get that France and the United States have a strong historical and cultural bond. I know that many of us love the French national anthem because of the stirring scene in the movie “Casablanca”, even though the words are bloody awful. However, if our politicians and the war media are telling us that we have to prepare to send warriors to Syria because Paris has changed everything, then why not to Nigeria?
This was the point that President Obama made over and over and over again at his press conference in Turkey. Sending American warriors into every situation where terrorists are committing atrocities is not a sustainable strategy. Moreover, I say: for all those who are so ready for another war in the Middle East, are you ready to reinstitute the draft so the same few warriors and their families do not continue to bear the cost of war? Are you ready to pay higher taxes to fund it? Is the Congress ready to declare war on Daesh, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups? Are we ready for every citizen to make a sacrifice for the war effort? Or will this be another war where a few fight and the rest of us are told to go shopping?
Again, I say that terrorist attacks on Americans in America is not the greatest threat that we face. In 2015 so far there have been six terror attacks worldwide that were more deadly than the attack in Paris. ( If we add up the top seven attacks this year it comes to nearly 3,000. There are 32,000 fatalities due to gun violence in the United States every year. On Friday in Paris, 129 people were killed. In the United States, nearly 90 people die every day because of gun violence. Yet our political leaders seem unwilling or unable to change this sad and deadly fact.
Too many politicians and the war media want us stupid and afraid. It translates into viewers, add revenue, and votes. I am still patriot enough and hopeful enough to believe that the United States can be the land of the free and the home of the brave that we sing about before nearly every game we play. However, if we fall for the “be afraid be very afraid” hype, we will be the land of the stupid and the home of the scared.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”

2 thoughts on “The Land of the Stupid and the Home of the Scared

  1. If the Republican Party ever missed a chance to exploit fear, then I missed it. If Americans allow this to happen we definitely have to eliminate “Home of the Brave” from the “Star Spangled Banner.”

  2. Thanks for a thoughtful essay. I think, though, that the main problem we face this election season is the absolute ignorance of not only the Republican party’s candidates but the electorate as a whole. For various reasons, more than ever before, there is a restlessness in the air which is based on rumor, innuendo and utter disregard for the truth. Candidates are ready to say anything to get a vote and in fact they are saying nothing that is worth hearing or debating. The oligarchs have taken over and money is the name of the game. Trump is now offering a solution to the “Syrian problem” which is the exact equivalence of the infamous “yellow badge” and the Japanese internment camps of not too long ago; and he’s embraced by presumably “serious” politicians like the leader of the House of Representatives and a majority of Reps.
    We live in sad times!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *