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!
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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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Venezuela and Existential Threats

Reading time – 5:07; Viewing time – 7:30  .  .  .

First, my only comment on the topic of the cherry picked, sentence fragmented Mueller report is that I want the full report – all of it including the appendices – both for the complete, un-predigested information so that I can draw my own conclusions and so that we won’t imagine a Justice Department cover up engineered by Trump’s hand-picked protector.

As of this writing Attorney General Barr has indicated he will release the complete Mueller report by mid-April. There will be redactions, perhaps lots of them. Some will be to protect ongoing investigations. Some redactions will be for national security reasons. Some will be to avoid causing embarrassment to “peripheral innocent people.” I have no clue why that’s more important than instilling confidence in the report for a skeptical public. Absent such confidence, we’re facing an existential threat to our democracy.

If you need insightful commentary on the entire Russia issue, including Mueller’s report, read pal Dan Wallace’s comments. Now to the issue of Venezuela.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story about Russia’s power play in Venezuela. Putin sent 100 troops there to prop up dictator Nicolás Maduro. In reaction to that, reader JC asked if there was anyone left in Washington who understands the Monroe Doctrine or remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis. My answers: no and no.

As you’ll recall from high school American history class, the Monroe Doctrine prohibits further European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev was cultivating Cuba as a client state, effectively making it a colony of the Soviet Union, the very thing prohibited by the Monroe Doctrine. Soviet missiles armed with nuclear warheads on that island made it an existential threat to the United States.

While President James Monroe couldn’t have imagined nuclear weapons, he and his contemporaries were clear that the presence of European military might this close to home was an existential threat to our nascent country. The Monroe Doctrine was and is about our national security.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were thoughtful, careful men in charge who insisted upon best intelligence and carefully considered approaches to the challenges we faced. They had the strength of character to resist knee-jerk military actions and they prevented a catastrophic war.

This time there’s a reality TV personality in charge who doesn’t read, who is incapable of assembling complex thoughts, who doesn’t review the President’s Daily Brief, so he doesn’t know what’s going on, who doesn’t have sufficient self-control to resist temper tantrums and who needs to be seen as the biggest, baddest tough guy. He is supported by Secretary of State John Bolton, who never saw a conflict he didn’t want to escalate into war. As bad, we have a horrendous record of starting conflicts without any plan to end them.

For example, George W. Bush dim-brain/lied us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with phantom promises of quick success and happily-ever-after flowers tossed at our troops by Iraqis. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared Iraqi oil would pay for the whole thing. None of that happened.

What was foreseeable but which they refused to foresee was the global refugee problem they triggered and which the world lives with quite unsteadily now. It is a key outfall of Bush’s lies and we still don’t have a plan to end those wars.

Now that Russia has sent its troops into Venezuela we are in a situation not unlike the Cuban Missile threat from the Soviet Union. President Trump backs Maduro’s challenger Juan Guaidó. How will Trump stop Russia from both keeping Maduro in power and from having that military foothold in the Western Hemisphere that is specifically forbidden by the Monroe Doctrine?

In point of fact, Trump has been a disaster of a negotiator for the U.S. He’s been a patsy with nothing to show for his capitulations to Russia and North Korea. Worse, he’s been a lapdog for Putin, who is now threatening Trump’s tough guy posturing.

Trump has told Putin to back off. If Trump tries to negotiate with Putin to get him to do that, Trump’s past negotiating prowess suggests that it probably will look like hollow posturing that leaves Russian troops in place in Venezuela with an escalating military presence in the Western Hemisphere. If instead Trump sends troops in support of Guaidó, we’ll be faced off against the Russians and troops on both sides are likely to be killed. And there won’t be an exit plan from the conflict.

What could possibly go wrong?

And another thing  .  .  .

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee called for Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign his chairmanship of the committee, based on the same kind of Republican partisan brainlessness that we’ve seen for years. Schiff replied with a kind of muscular statement rarely heard from Democrats. Watch the whole thing here.

Last thing .  .  .

Chris Hayes interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”) on Friday. Here’s a link to a string of videos from that interview. I urge you to watch all of them for one reason. It’s not so that you’ll agree with or find ways to pick apart the Green New Deal or find ways to cheer or criticize her. I want you to think on a higher level.

Specifically, watch and listen in order to understand why she has so completely captured the public imagination. Our Gen X, Y and Z citizens see our politics in the way that Emma Gonzalez sees our embedded intransigence over gun safety: “We call B.S.”

AOC speaks for an overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of how much you may fundamentally disagree with her policy ideas or fear your own loss of power.

To Our Legislators:

Get on board with working with people who see the future far differently than you do. If you don’t want to do that, I suggest that you polish your résumé in preparation for entry into an exciting new career. That’s because these folks know that they’ll be the ones who will live with the consequences of what we’re creating right now, so they have a far more powerful interest in a sustainable future. We have created an existential threat to them and they won’t let us mess it up any more.


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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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