Fear Is A Terrible Thing

POST 1055

People Are Saying

There is frightful peril, we’re told by those with their eyeballs bulging, and they say there is great suffering to come. They  swear on oath that their terrible prognostications of grave danger and ghastly harm, of apocalyptic doom and deeply intense pain and suffering are before us. People are saying.

Except for the heinous acts of the godless elites, all of our problems are caused by those dark skinned immigrants, the non-Anglos, the non-Aryans who have slithered into our Christian nation to defile us, people are saying.

Our blood is being poisoned, they tell us. We are infested with vermin and the diseases that everyone knows these invaders carry and spread to we legitimate Americans. It’s time we rid ourselves of this threat to our pure America, people are saying.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26 when a Singapore flagged ship crashed into a pylon supporting the bridge. The entire crew is foreign – Indians! Little wonder that happened, people are saying.

Similarly, the only deaths and injuries from this disaster were of workers fixing potholes. They were all foreign born and some were here illegally. Too bad – they shouldn’t have been here at all, people are saying.

Worse, it’s obvious that those injured or dead had taken jobs from good White Americans. They replaced our countrymen, taking food from the mouths of our children. This is yet another example of why we have to close our borders to seal out the vermin who would come here and steal from us, people are saying.

Okay, enough of the insane far right hysteria over immigration. The point is that such things really are being said, and said with great passion, with flashing angry eyes and with great spraying of spit. I can’t let this vicious stuff stand without a rebuttal of truth.

First, I haven’t a clue how anyone can poison our blood. Nobody else does, either. It’s just another vitriolic Trumpy hateful dog whistle to which the haters come running.

Getting past the absurdity of that, we’ve had waves of anti-immigrant lunacy over our history. Oddly, much of it has been aimed at various groups eventually identified as White and therefore welcome, like the Irish and the Italians. We’ve somehow managed to remain intact and haven’t suffered poisoning, making me wonder if the hate and rejection are actually based on Whiteness or even on Christianity.

It’s true that the Dali is a Singapore flagged ship and none of its crew is American. But suggesting that foreign incompetence was the cause of the disaster infuses an extra dose of stupid into the inquiry, because the ship was being piloted by a licensed American Pilot, a White American.

The six men who died and the two who were injured, whether here legally or not, were doing jobs that Americans won’t do. Seriously, would you work all that long, cold night filling potholes on the roadway of that bridge? Do you know of any native born American who would do that? No, you don’t, and neither do I.

Those bridge worker immigrants didn’t take jobs from Americans. Neither do agricultural field workers or any immigrants doing hard manual labor at subsistence wages. They do work Americans won’t do but which must be done. So much for the hateful, cruel and idiotic replacement theory and fie on the fools who spread it. Substitute your own word for “fie,” if you’d like.

Today’s immigrants are here for the same reason your ancestors left “the old country,” leaving behind everyone and everything known to them. They departed on the fragile hope of making a better life in America. It’s captured by the comments of a Honduran nephew of one of those killed on the Key Bridge, as recorded by an Associated Press reporter:

“The kind of work he did is what people born in the U.S. won’t do. People like him travel there with a dream. They don’t want to break anything or take anything.”

Our immigrants, including the abused and suffering but still hopeful people at the Rio Grande River, the people sliced by Gov. Gregg Abbott’s razor wire, want what our great-grandparents wanted: a better life. Immigrants who come here aren’t looking for a handout; they’re ready to work for that better life. You know this story and you know it’s true. So do the hystericals who wail those awful and untrue things about immigrants. Why do they do that hateful demonizing?

Some measure of that is a crass and cruel grab for power accomplished by appealing to the fear in others.

Some measure of it, though, may be because people really do fear others, those not known to them, those who are in some way different from them. Fear of the unknown is a staple of human beings, whether it’s a child’s fear of dragons in the basement or fear of being on a dark street or fear of people with unfamiliar cultural ways.

The truth is that our fears about immigration are self-imposed barriers to our own growth and prosperity. Read Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s piece about this – it’s where I got that quote from the nephew of the Key Bridge worker who died.

Two Key Points

First, there is a sensible middle ground between allowing completely open, un-monitored borders and completely closing our borders. It should not be required to say that, but this is an age of extremism, cowardice and unfettered idiocy, making it necessary to state the obvious.

Second, there are two kinds of fear. One is rational fear. The people of Ukraine live with that every day. Their fear is well founded, because Vladimir Putin’s army is trying to kill them.

The other is irrational fear. It is based on nothing tangible or real, like the fear of dragons in the basement or a fear of immigrants coming to take your job.

Our country is filled to overflowing with fear. The odd thing is that we are not threatened by any war or famine or anything tangible. The only threat we face, the only fear that hangs in the air is the one we ourselves create and it is driven solely by our diabolical, irrational fears stoked by those who profit from stoking them. It drives us to hate our neighbors, to do violence against our country and our countrymen and to look for a new but false god to hold back the imaginary dragons we fear.

That kind of fear – irrational fear – is a terrible thing.

Finally, A Note From AOC to Elon Musk .  .  .

.  .  .  after Musk shared a right-wing, anti-immigration article and accused Dems of ‘importing voters’ to influence elections:

Today is a good day to be the light

  • _____________________________
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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4 Responses to Fear Is A Terrible Thing
  1. Kirk Landers Reply

    I think if you surveyed municipal highway departments in America you’d find lots of native born Caucasians who fill potholes. Some of those highway department jobs pay well and come with good benefits.

    That said, your points about fear and irrationality are very well taken. Far from being a threat to the economy, immigrants have been shown time and again to be essential to our economic growth. The reason is pretty simple: since WWII, we have never had a period of economic growth without population growth. The population of native-born American citizens has been stagnant for years, so we need immigrants for a strong economy.

    Similarly, the odds of a white, middle class suburbanite being the victim of a crime committed by an immigrant or even a non-white citizen are miniscule.

    These are not hard facts to find, except maybe in the right-wing press. But as the GOP has shown ever since the Willie Horton ads in George HW Bush’s presidential campaign, there’s a substantial portion of our population who will poop in their pants at the merest mention of minority violence.

    This willful ignorance explains why Trump–a man facing dozens of felony charges in four different courts, a man who has been credibly accused of rape and sexual assault by something like a half dozen women (including E. Jean Carroll who was convincing enough to win tens of millions of dollars in damages), and a man notorious for decades for cheating people who work for him out of payment–is trying to run as a law-and-order candidate now. And we can bet that the audiences of Fox, Breitbart, and the rest of the fascist media will buy the whole proposition….not to mention wildly overpriced shares of Truth Social.

    But then, you’ve already pointed out all this. So, thanks!

  2. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Fear comes in many shades and degrees, but by any name, explanation or definition they all fall in one heading: Fear of the unknown.

    I call those fears prejudices. Whether it’s “caused” by other peoples’ race, color, national origin, religion, whatever. They are all the result of our own ignorance.

    Our ancestors were the “others”. Our parents or grandparents or great grandparents had to make their own way, to try to fit in and survive here.