Republican Frame of Fear

Afraid: Republican FrameThe most disappointing thing in the Democratic debate Saturday night was that both Clinton and especially O’Malley accepted the Republican frame about the threat of terrorism and how afraid we should all be. And I’m really trying to get my head around all this. Here’s the thing: I’m not afraid. Yet I consider myself a complete coward. How can that be?

I think it has something to do with my clear grasp of sampling bias. Let us suppose, for a moment, that the San Bernardino attack had not been committed by a couple of Muslims. Imagine if it had been a white couple of the Alex Jones inclination. In that case, we wouldn’t be talking about ISIS as though they were some kind of existential threat to the United States. The San Bernardino attack did not change anything on the macroscale about the United States, but somehow it is an entirely acceptable position to think that everything changed — like it was 9/11 all over again.

Martin O’Malley seemed almost hysterical about it. He calmed down eventually, but for a while I thought he would have fit in better at last Tuesday night’s debate…

Other than this attack being more successful than most, how is this any different from any other attack? Even if you want to limit it to Muslims who think they are part of some worldwide jihad, how does this attack change things? Has there been an uptick in these attacks? What about Nidal Hasan? Why didn’t that attack require that we change the whole fabric of society and our foreign policy? Could it be, I don’t know, that there is a presidential campaign on now?

Despite the fact that media and the political class are convinced that the San Bernardino shootings are Very Significant, I haven’t found many people who think this. And those who do think this are people who have been frightened into it by that very media and political class. As a people, we live in a nation is used to mass shootings happening every day. Unless 5 people get killed in one, it isn’t likely to even make national news. But we have been told that this is one that we must really pay attention to. It is so very meaningful that we must monitor the internet and destroy encryption.

At the beginning of the debate, Clinton gave far too much emphasis on this. But Martin O’Malley seemed almost hysterical about it. He calmed down eventually, but for a while I thought he would have fit in better at last Tuesday night’s debate with his clear acceptance of the Republican frame about terrorism. Sanders was the standout in this part of the debate, because he just didn’t go there. He’s good at focusing on what’s important.

But it was quite an interesting contrast. Because even when the Democrats are talking about terrorism, the focus is on specific things that we might do. I watched the whole Republican debate. It contained nothing that you couldn’t get from six seconds of The Fly, “Be afraid; be very afraid.” It’s interesting that the film came out in 1986 at the height of the “Reagan Revolution.” At least we had cause to be afraid then.

The truth is that as gullible as Americans are, they are even more quick to distraction. So the San Bernardino attack will fade from memory and they will get back to focusing on what they always do: their poor economic situation. This Republican frame will not last. But it does raise a concern that a similar attack in July or August of next year could throw everything into chaos and we could end up with President Trump.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

8 thoughts on “Republican Frame of Fear

  1. Nice use of a copyrighted clip. I’m e-mailing the owners of “The Fly” right now, and soon you will feel their savage wrath.

    It is odd how extreme megalomaniacs like Trump, Hitler, and Bill Gates all have offensively hideous hairdos. Like they wear them with pride. “I’m so awesome, I don’t need to adhere to society’s standards of maintaining a decent appearance.”

    Did anyone around here see this “Daily Show” clip? It’s probably my favorite from Trevor Noah so far:

    • Bill Gates was a nerd. So naturally he had no sense of style and that is why his haircuts always are so bad even despite Mrs. Gates’ best efforts.

      The other two I have no answer for.

      • It’s strange. Paul Allen, who was Gates’s co-conspirator back in the day, is the same way. He owns the Portland NBA team (also Ticketmaster, also, probably, our souls) and sits courtside with supermodels looking like something no reasonable cat would drag in.

        • There is a subset of women who will always go for a guy with money regardless of how he looks.

          So those men get a lot of men. Still others, like Frank, get women hitting on them for no reason other than he is a nerdy guy.

    • Strangely, I didn’t know until I looked for the clip that the line only went back to The Fly. I had assumed it was older. I actually wanted the line from Addams Family Values, because I prefer Christina Ricci’s reading of the line.

      I’ve been really happy with Trevor Noah. The show is of comparable quality. Of course, it isn’t as hard as starting a show from scratch.

  2. hmmm. I think in Clinton’s case she is literally thinking “this is something that needs some attention because people are scared and I don’t like when people I want to help are scared.” O’Malley probably was thinking about his own children and the fear he feels for them.

    Possibly, I have no idea.

    • I don’t know. I think the whole country has gone crazy about this issue. It is a tragedy, but the world really hasn’t changed. Of course, I didn’t think the world had changed after 9/11. So I’m not in the habit of being on top of what Americans think. But I still think they are wrong. This is how we start useless wars. Over and over again.

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