I have been reading a lot of history lately. The biography of John Adams. The biography of Alexander Hamilton. The story of the b-17 bombing of the Nazis during WW2.
Americans of the distant and recent past put their lives on the line. Whether they were right or wrong can be debated. Was Vietnam worth it? Was Afghanistan necessary? Was Iraq a proper response to 9/11?
Whatever your political philosophy it seems as though Americans have always stood up and faced whatever “evil” they needed to face. Even if some of that “evil” may be imaginary.
Over the last few years we have seen a new American emerge. This is the American of the political right wing. Just as American as you or I. But Americans who have redefined what it means to be a “patriot” or a “citizen”
These Americans, unlike their forefathers, live in a state of constant fear. They are constantly horrified. Perpetually frightened.
They reject the liberal FDR who, when faced with the most devastating economic disaster the US had ever known, responded by telling Americans, in his first inaugural address. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. A statement FDR repeated in 1941 in response to the Nazi menace.
They reject the words of another liberal president, JFK, who pronounced, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”.
We might even try Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the GOP, who said, ” Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”
Well. Not so.
Today, the entire right wing seems to be hiding under their beds, teeth chattering. To hear some of these new Americans talk you would think we are a nation of cry babies and cowards.
What are they afraid of?
Transgender people using bathrooms.
Gays getting married.
People who want to take away their guns.
People without guns.
Women who want to control their own bodies.
Old people voting.
Gays in the military.
Black Lives Matter.
Did I mention gays?
Perhaps we need to get these grown men out from under the beds. Be gentle with them. Pat them on their heads. Hold their hands. Tell them it will all be okay. Nobody is going to hurt them. No gays are going to attack them. No one is taking away their guns. Heat up some cocoa and give them a cookie.
The poor darlings are frightened out of their (half)wits.
Perhaps Plato said it best over 2,000 years ago.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”.