Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1485: The power of fear

  Fear is powerful. Fear changes what we see. Fear changes what we hear. Fear changes what we perceive. Fear changes what we feel. Fear changes things.

  Fear is powerful. Fear changes what we do. Fear changes what we don’t do. Fear warps our judgment. Fear slows our actions. Fear speeds up our actions. Fear changes things.

  Fear is powerful. Fear makes us see what is not there. Fear blinds us to what is there. Fear enlarges that which is bad. Fear contracts that which is good. Fear changes everything.

  Terror is far more powerful than fear. Terror is fear magnified many times over. Terror multiplies everything that fear produces: what we see; what we hear; what we feel; what we perceive; what we do and don’t do. Terror magnifies everything that fear produces.

  Terror is far more powerful than fear for it is fear multiplied. Terror causes us to run when we should remain still. Terror causes us to remain still when we should move. Terror causes us to exclude when we should include. Terror causes us to include when we should exclude. Terror is geometric for it multiples everything that fear has already multiplied.

  Terror is extremely powerful. Worst of all, terror not only changes things; it changes us. In many ways, terror makes us act like those who terrorize us. When we are caught in the web of terror, we too quickly become killers and we too slowly become saviors. We sometimes kill literally. More often we kill hopes and dreams and spirits. We kill freedom in a terror-driven search for security. We kill security in a terror-fueled search for safety. Terror multiplies everything that fear has already multiplied.

  Terror is extremely powerful. In 1942, the Japanese terrorized our country by bombing Pearl Harbor. The United States of America, acting in the throes of a terror that terror produced, placed U.S. citizens of Japanese origin in prisons. Of course, they did not call them prisons; they were internment camps. The reaction to terror was to terrorize a hundred thousand United States citizens of Japanese ancestry. Over 30 years later the United States apologized and paid reparations. Terror caused us to terrorize the innocent.

  Terror is extremely powerful. It becomes explosive when mixed with prejudice fueled by race or religion or sex or nationality or gender or a combination thereof. Our fears multiply our prejudices. Our prejudices multiply our fears. Terror multiplies the combination, transforming it from a bomb of regular proportions to a bomb of nuclear proportion. There was prejudice against the Japanese. There was also fear of the Japanese. Then terror merged and magnified this mixture of prejudice and fear. Terror fuels our terror. Terror causes us to become terrorists in spite of ourselves.

  Terror is extremely powerful. We have a long history of terror in this country. We don’t admit it. We even refuse to talk about it. Terror was rampant in our killing and/or displacing hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. A whole people were terrorized. Terror was rampant in our enslaving millions of Africans and their descendants. Every American institution participated in the terror. Terror was rampant after slavery with more than 4,000 known lynchings and other murders and acts of terror too numerous to count. And nothing was done about it by national, state or local government, thereby making it state-sanctioned terror. Terror causes us to become terrorists in the name of fighting terrorism.

  Terror is extremely powerful. We are currently caught in the throes of terror. Millions of Syrians are risking everything to escape from the terror of ISIS and Bashar Assad. They are helpless refugees. Some want to come to the United States, the worldwide symbol of freedom and democracy. Because a few thousand radical Jihadists of the Islamic faith perpetrated acts of terror, we have become fearful of the other 1.6 billion practitioners of Islam. Our religious prejudices are multiplied by our fears, and our fears are multiplied by acts of terror. Our fears and prejudices cause us to define the whole by the exceptions and become something we don’t really want to be.

  Terror is extremely powerful. As a result of our terror, we are now excluding those who ought to be included – refugees in flight from terror. We leave open the door to the perpetrators of the Parisian acts of terror- nearly all were European nationals. The leading Republican candidate for President of the United States of America suggested that all those of Islamic faith should be on a list and carry religious identification. Terror makes us do that which we ought not do. Terror caused us not to do that which we ought to do.

  Terror is extremely powerful. We should never underestimate its power when mixed with prejudices fueled by race, religion, sex, nationality, greed, etc. The overwhelming number of terrorist acts in this country has been committed by White Christian males. But that has not made us act in terror. But when acts are committed thousands of miles away on another continent, the religion nationality and race cause us to act in terror. When we were at war with Germany in World War I, not one German was placed in an internment camp. When we were at war with Japan, a hundred thousand Japanese were placed in internment camps. The Germans were White and the Japanese were people of color like the Native Americans and African Americans. Terror mixed with prejudice causes us to become that which we abhor.

EPILOGUE – The ultimate goal of terror is to cause us to become something we are not and react in a destructive way. When we do, the terrorists win even when they die.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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