Agrabah and the Generalized Fear of Republicans

AladdinPublic Policy Polling (PPP) has a history of polling ridiculous things. Usually I don’t think it means all that much. I’m of the opinion that if you asked Republicans if Obama was a child molester, a fair percentage of them would say yes. It isn’t that they really think that Obama is a child molester but that they want all the world to know that they really, really, really don’t like the first African American president. But the week before last, PPP asked an obscure, but I think ultimately telling, question, “Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?”

Now you probably don’t know it, but according to the Disney wikia page, “Agrabah, Arabia (أغربه) is the central location in the popular 1992 Disney film, Aladdin.” PPP didn’t tell this to the 532 Republicans they polled. And you can well image what the people answering the poll were thinking. “Agrabah” just sounds like a place where “those people” are. As I have heard too many times to feel good about humanity, “Those people were dancing after 9/11!” And this notion of “those people” includes pretty much everyone that isn’t European. “If they’re brown, they were happy to see the towers go down!”

So 30% of Republicans responded yes: they wanted to bomb Agrabah. Apparently, they wanted to make its celluloid glow in the dark. On the positive side, 13% thought that bombing was a bad idea. It’s a lot to expect that they recognized that Agrabah was a fantasy land from a distant Disney feature. I suspect they represent the libertarian, or at least non-interventionist, wing of the party. They said no to the question for the same reason most Democrats would: they aren’t keen on bombing other countries as a matter of course. And I suppose we should be glad that a whopping 57% of Republicans would like to wait and see if the Agrabahians are planning to use their magic carpets in an offensive way.

But 30%. That’s a lot of people who just want to bomb somewhere — anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. You see, if they had been asked if we should bomb Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, they wouldn’t have said yes. It is just that Agrabah sounds like one of those places where the people don’t like us. I’m sure the numbers would have been the same if the location was Bhopal — or even Mumbai. Because they are foreign sounding.

It’s a great concern that we have developed to the point where roughly a third of the Republican Party are so fearful that they are determined to bomb away their concerns. And I suspect that the other 57% are overcome with fear too. The last Republican debate did not instill confidence. Watching the whole thing, I was amazed that ISIS had become this big deal. It makes me feel alone, because I grew up with the Soviet threat. And although I think we were far too concerned about it, there is no doubt that the Soviet Union was a super power. The concern about ISIS is ridiculous.

For one thing, it is super focused. We don’t have to worry about white supremacists shooting up a church, because that’s just some wacko. We don’t have to worry about some guy shooting up a Planned Parenthood, because it is just some wacko. But a couple of would-be jihadists kill a bunch of people and there is nothing idiosyncratic about it! No, as “reasonable” Republican Marco Rubio says, it’s a “class of civilizations”!

This is what you get when all you have to offer the people is fear. When all your actual policies would be repugnant to conservatives if they were ever allowed to see them clearly. Nevertheless, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine are safe — for now. But there are many in the Republican Party who love the smell of celluloid in the morning.

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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.

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