One Nation Under Fear

Fear Is Not Comfort

Posted by JumpyPants

My cousin just got back from a visit with our extended family in the Ohio River Valley. That's the northern part of Appalachia, where Obama could barely muster a vote. My family there are now clinging to every fantasy they can about not only the last 8 years ("the recession is Clinton's fault!" "Iraq is going great!" "9/11 is Clinton's fault!" "Al Gore is a liar!" "There is no such thing as global warming -- look at the snow in Vegas!"), but about the incoming president ("He's not an American, he's a Muslim, he will take jobs away from white people!").

This is my family, so I feel it's extra-incumbent upon me to understand them, which means understanding where they are coming from. Sadly, it's not hard to figure out. They are willfully provincial, for the most part eschewing travel outside their geographic and cultural comfort zones. Some of them home school so that their kids aren't exposed to facts like "evolutionary processes" or the history of slavery in America. They are victims of their own fear, which is further fed by the vomit-stream of lies fed to them by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and their friends who send around chain emails. They have embraced fear as comfort, which sounds about as strange as it is, but this is who they are. Fear of the other, and what is the president-elect if not the biggest "other" they can imagine, makes them feel safe in themselves.

But I have hope. I believe that if they can live through the next four years, there is a chance that they will see that there are no others among us. I believe they have the potential to understand in their hearts the words of Dutch humanist Erasmus when he said:

One would imagine that the common name of man might be sufficient to secure concord between all who claim it.