Nothing to Fear But the Fearful Themselves
From Paris to San Bernardino
When I first learned of the recent attacks in Paris, a chill went down my spine. “No,” I thought, “This is all happening too fast.”
I was terrified. I was not terrorized, mind you. What happened in Paris was tragic, of course. But I was not so ignorant and innumerate as to think the kind of violence it represented was a statistically significant direct threat to myself and my loved ones. I was fully cognizant that, even with the recent uptick in terror attacks, the probability of my family ever being caught up in one was vanishingly minuscule. I am more likely to be felled by a deer or a bolt of lightning than by a jihadist’s Kalashnikov.
What terrified me was the response of all the people who are incapable of such a proportional perspective: those who saw the news from France and panicked, thinking “I’m next!” As distant as it was, the Paris attacks unleashed in America a surge of fear and of calls for greater police powers, as well as an attendant wave of anti-Muslim hate and war lust.
And as sophisticated and urbane as the French are reputed to be, they too let irrational terror wash over them. And under its sway, they permitted the State to run rampant over life and liberty. The public attitude was distilled by a young French citizen whose message to her government was, “Do whatever you want, but keep me safe.” With this mandate, France escalated its pointless and terrorist-breeding bombing of civilian-filled Syrian towns. And at home, as Truth in Media reported:
“…the French government declared a state of emergency based on a rarely used 1955 law that allows the state to conduct warrant-less searches of private property, impose curfews, restrict public gatherings and movements of people, confiscate weapons at will and take over the press.”
As always, the statist public perversely responded to terrorism drawn upon their heads by their government’s foreign militancy by sanctioning more such militancy. And it perversely rewarded that government for its abject failure to prevent the attacks with more resources, powers, and responsibility.
On top of arrest sweeps and threatening to close mosques, the French government’s emergency powers were invoked to place activists under house arrest in order to squelch completely unrelated protests. This demonstrated vividly that war is indeed the health of the State, and war-spawned terrorist attacks are like an adrenaline shot for domestic tyranny.
When I saw these responses, it fully sank in just how surrounded my family and I are by human livestock and just how acutely dangerous that position is. I realized that, when an attack of that scale and shock-value again happens on American soil, the pack-minded multitudes all around me will deafeningly bay for war. And the herd-minded hundreds of millions will stampede to the State for security, bleating to please, please be shorn of their remaining liberties.
I am not terrified of the terrorists; i.e., I am not, myself, terrorized. Rather, I am terrified of the terrorized; terrified of the bovine masses who are so easily manipulated by terrorists, governments, and the terror-amplifying media into allowing our country to slip toward totalitarianism and total war.
Now the result of that could be a statistically significant threat to myself and my family. Under an omnipotent government with permanent emergency powers, there would be a significant likelihood of my nephew being drafted to help occupy a foreign country; my daughter going hungry thanks to wartime economic planning; or myself being imprisoned or shot as a dissident.
Yet I have drawn solace from the fact that libertarians like myself are not alone in pushing back against the terrorized Right. Following the Paris attacks, many excellent articles from the political Left were published wisely warning the West not to answer indiscriminate violence in kind. Such a terror-driven response is exactly what the terrorists want, in order to polarize and sharpen a “clash of civilizations.”
And then yesterday’s San Bernardino attack happened.
Before the fact that the alleged shooters were Muslim emerged, the Left began jumping all over it as yet another in a long series of mass shootings by whites that demonstrated the urgent need for more gun control.
Two weeks earlier, these same progressives were calmly counseling the public to not be terrorized into giving their government more power to bomb, register, and persecute Muslims. Now they themselves were trying to terrorize the public into giving their government more power to disarm, register, and persecute gun owners.
They point out that you are more likely to be killed by a white, homegrown terrorist than a Muslim one. That may be true, but both of those fates are still far less likely than your odds of being crushed by furniture (or being killed by a cop, for that matter). Neither of these exaggerated threats are any justification for incurring the great and underestimated dangers involved in granting government sweeping new powers.
Progressives, who rightly support Black Lives Matter, are pining for more gun laws, while the already existing gun possession laws are one of the chief pretexts cops and courts use to brutalize and incarcerate blacks.
And the same progressives who rightly warn of potential fascism under the divisive demagoguery of Donald Trump, want to give the institution that Trump may come to control greater power to register and disarm the public. They ignore or deny the fact that the mass human roundups we associate with such regimes are only practicable given broad civilian disarmament. And broad civilian disarmament, in turn, is only practicable given broad gun registration. For example, the German Jews and liberals were easily liquidated by the Nazis, thanks to the Weimar Republic’s gun registration laws. Do you really want every single Mexican and Muslim in America disarmed or easily disarm-able under “Chancellor” Trump?
After San Bernardino, I am just as terrified of the terrorized and terrorizing Left as I am of the terrorized and terrorizing Right. I more fully realize that the latter can only do its worst if enabled by the former. The Left sets us up for the Right to knock us down. Call it the Weimar/Third Reich one-two punch.
I do not irrationally and disproportionately fear Muslim bomb-wielding jihadists or white, gun-toting nutcases. But I rationally and proportionately fear those who do, and the regimes such terror empowers. History demonstrates that governments are capable of mass murder and enslavement far beyond what rogue militants can muster. Industrial-scale terrorists are the ones who wear ties, chevrons, and badges. But such terrorists are a powerless few without the supine acquiescence of the terrorized many. There is nothing to fear but the fearful themselves.
Paris and San Bernardino taught me that my family is trapped amid a herd, completely surrounded by cattle-minded millions who can be spooked into large-scale stampedes with small-scale crimes. And there is literally no way out, because virtually the entire world is afflicted with one form of collectivist statism or another. Therefore, the only way to prevent my loved ones from being trampled is by helping as many people as I can to break the spell of terror that turns civilized men and women into rampaging beasts.
That is why I am writing this essay: to implore you, the reader, to snap out of that spell if you have not already, and to help others do the same. Stop swallowing the overblown scaremongering of the government and its corporate media cronies. Stop letting them use hysteria over small menaces to drive you into the arms of tyranny, which is the greatest menace of all. Overthrow the reign of terror the State has installed over your mind. Else the days ahead may be terrible indeed.
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