Are you afraid? Because you’re supposed to be at least a little nervous, a bit anxious, every waking minute. Ever stopped to ask why there’s this gnawing feeling in your gut? ‘The Man’ won’t say it’s because of the failure of antibiotics, or extreme weather changes, nor even the gradual erosion of paid employment. No, what you’ll be told is that your psychic despair rises in part due to the threat of terrorism at home and abroad. This is the bogey-monster of our times — forget the Sandman, tell your naughty kids that ‘Saddam’ is gonna get them — luckily we have cops and soldiers to protect us, right?
Yet almost eight times as many Americans were killed by tropical storm Harvey in the past week than died at the hands of terrorists this year — lower the ratio to six times if you have the balls to label Heather Heyer’s murder by white supremacist James Alex fields Jr. for what it was — an act of domestic terror. Four times as many Americans died of gun violence on 29 August 2017 alone than died of terrorism all year. We’re killing ourselves with firearms in our own homes at ever-increasing rate; so who should the kids really fear? The semi-fictitional Arab bogey-man, or their slightly-deranged bipolar Mom?
Just for a minute, without beginning a list, let’s be real about the threat assessment for average Westerners. What is actually likely to kill us on a day-to-day basis? Forget the obvious — drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle collisions, random acts of Darwinian stupidity — four times as many white people have been killed by dogs in 2017 than by terrorists! Snoopy is more dangerous than Sufism. But, again, it’s a good thing the cops are out there ready to tackle the canine menace head-on!
We attribute the ‘hand of god’ to storms like Harvey and band together to rebuild, but if an American backpacker taking selfies in Madrid steps within the blast radius of a pipe-bomb, the whole continental USA cleaves apart and arms itself, one against the other, as if your neighbour’s politics are to blame? Emboldened by Trump’s kind words, hate groups like the KKK and Vanguard even don’t bother to cover their faces anymore. This is the New World Order for neo-cons and the alt-right — way better than the liberal’s dreaded NWO, am I right?.
A lot has been written about the militarisation of police. Like Ancient Rome, the legislators of the US Constitution were reluctant to permit a standing army during peacetime. A way to avoid this is to militarise the police into a de-facto armed force by making people feel they need a paramilitary police to protect them against ‘threats’. Here in Oz, classic sieges like Lindt Cafe are described as ‘acts of terror’ because it suits vested interests not to correct the public record. If peeps are scared, there is political will for otherwise unpalatable new laws and/or police powers, and if you speak against it you’re a suspect. I mean, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.
So what should we really fear? I don’t actually keep a backpack ready for the day I grab my wife and kids and head for the hills, but we are thinking of growing vegetables in the backyard, putting better security screens on the windows, keeping our health insurance current, and staying employed. Because a new Cold War is coming. Maybe it’s not time just yet to tune your fiddle and climb on the roof, or to zero in your AR-10. But I’ll definitely be getting those lazy cats off their furry bottoms and begin their training, in case one day we need to put them to use.
So, will the desperation of the unemployed manifest in an uptick in violent robberies and home invasions, carjackings and theft? How long before the mob is at your door? Not before the day dawns that we’re obliged to carry identification papers. Not before we’re told to accept that random detention by a police force indistinguishable from the Gestapo or the Stasi is the price we pay to feel safe. That will come first, I guarantee it.
But while we’re unlikely to be overrun by sentient apes, and the jackboot of the police state will probably quash the hungry mob, fear itself is contagious. Fear a world where you either have, or do not have, the means to live a reasonable life. Instead of fighting and clawing and thieving for more we could share, then everyone could just calm the fu*k down. But I know that makes me sound like a wealth-redistributing pinko commie. All I can say, if that’s your reaction, is good luck.
Because you’re going to need a bigger door.