American Paranoia

Image by Justin Mandrell.
Courtesy of Stockvault.

The other day my dad tried blaming the latest budget debacle from Congress on Senate Democrats, in words that sounded like they came straight from Fox News or Info Wars. It was aggravating, because even on its face, the notion that a group of people in minority in Congress could make law without GOP help is logically impossible. RINO’s – Republicans In Name Only – were to blame, and I had to point out that they benefit from GOP association just as much as any other member. Such exchanges fatigue me because I’m dealing with excuses I’ve heard before.

In a different conversation with a friend of mine, I discussed the idea that these excuses aren’t just limited to one party or the other. They’ve gotten louder over the years as media outlets have picked sides in propaganda wars. Deplorable acts by one side get forgiven or minimized while the other side becomes the scapegoat for all that is bad. And I’ve had to get reminded of it despite actively avoiding the news for the past few days.

Then, in a dark epiphany, I realized that terrorism really did win on 9/11.
Twenty-four hour news stations beforehand were kind of a joke. Nobody I knew of paid much attention to them before 9/11. Fox and MSNBC were already on their political swings, but nobody gave a shit about what they had to say.

Afterwards, people started glutting themselves on news. Something about that attack made the American public finally realize that two oceans and a giant military couldn’t make them feel safe anymore. Security and knowing about threats became the national obsession. Police needed to be everywhere, because Al Qaeda could be anywhere. Paranoia set in with people who were afraid of places they couldn’t find on a map.

All of this was foreign to me, because I grew up with military checkpoints. Security personnel with assault rifles checked my identification as soon as I had to get it at age 10. Terrorism already rocked Europe in the 70’s and 80’s, and the U.S. military had planned according to what they learned.

On the flight home to the States from Germany, I thought it was weird that people could just go up and talk to the pilot of an aircraft. My parents got pissed off if I’d distract them while driving. Planes were way larger and faster than cars. When I landed in Pennsylvania, I thought it was especially weird that there wasn’t any major security at customs. Europe was quite different from home. In the U.S., nobody seemed to care about basic security.

We’re now a security state.
People talk about law and order, global threats, foreign meddlers, and all kinds of specters that lurk in the shadows. Information about all of this gets pumped out at such an alarming rate that it’s practically impossible to ignore it. Even if I want to avoid it, I know enough paranoid people that will come at me with the latest conspiracy theory or talking point blaming their pet scapegoat for whatever.

I can think of no better example than when people seriously told me they were afraid of Syrian children because ISIS might have recruited them.

With this level of paranoia, it shouldn’t be a surprise that tribalism has grown at an exponential rate. People who aren’t familiar are threats now. I see more people fall into this trap by the day. Even I have started to fall into it.

Now I want out, and the effort’s worth it.
Looking at everyone as if they’re threats to my personal safety is time-consuming and pointless. People just try to take advantage of that paranoia anyways. Reinforcing it is a pain in the ass, to the point where it is more painful to conform to others than it is to be myself.

I understand that changing my perspective isn’t going to change the world. That’s not the point. For too long other people’s insecurities have fed my own. I don’t have to let that happen anymore.

9 thoughts on “American Paranoia

  1. The general public is in a state of fear. The state has told people they are insecure, and in every building there is a guard to ensure you are not a terrorist. How I hate it. I hate most security checks because they seem to me really a waste of time. And it has created employment for those whose trade is security. It’s annoying in so many ways

    Liked by 3 people

    • Not only security firms, but also modern mercenary groups. The idea of private armies is something that belonged in the dark ages. Security ought to be an obvious venture, rather than an ubiquitous one.

      Like

  2. Osama Bin Laden claimed (shortly after 9-11 for which he was blamed, which was suspicious in my mind because he was in the U.S. on 9/11) that he was going to drag the U.S. into a war in the middle east, on his turf, and bankrupt us. At the time I thought he meant only that he was going to financially bankrupt us, but I think he was smarter than that (we have, in any case, a fiat currency). I think he intended to morally and politically bankrupt us and, in that, he was quite successful.

    On Sun, Mar 25, 2018 at 9:10 AM, Amusing Nonsense wrote:

    > Sirius Bizinus posted: ” The other day my dad tried blaming the latest > budget debacle from Congress on Senate Democrats, in words that sounded > like they came straight from Fox News or Info Wars. It was aggravating, > because even on its face, the notion that a group of people ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have most definitely seen through the glass darkly.

    And the situation as you describe it will undoubtedly continue. As you said, 9/11 was the tipping point and from my perspective, I cannot see things changing. UNLESS … the threat of nuclear war becomes more than a “threat” and we are forced to come together to survive.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Things can change for whatever reason. I’m not sure that replacing new threats with old ones is healthy, though. In some ways, terrorism technically replaced the fear of the Soviet Union, except terrorism is too effective.

      I’d like to see us stand for something rather than against something. Let’s champion literacy and be proud of people who donate to charity. Fighting is just getting too tiresome.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrorism is still winning if you want to count the shootings and bombings that have occurred since 9/11. Everything you mentioned is still fueled by the insanity. I honestly believe the innocence of our youth/lifetimes may be forever lost. It will take great change to turn things around.

    Yes MSNBC and Faux News are oppsoing sides of the coin, I like knowing which side of the coin I’m on. It ain’t Faux News of Info Wars…

    Like

  5. This last attack in France (at the supermarket) was in a shop I’ve been to twice, about 45 minutes from home 🙂 I considered being afraid but it’s still 27 times more likely I’ll die killed in a car accident than by a terrorist act. And can you imagine how exhausting it would be to be afraid of drivers?

    Liked by 4 people

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