Let me for a few minutes be clear. We bandy politics and philosophy daily, there is a give and take which makes us who we are, and the vast majority of it—at work, at school, on weekends, among friends—is good. The free exchange of ideas is the very basis of who we wish to see ourselves as a country.
Comes a point, though, when the belief that all ideas are somehow equal and equally valuable must be challenged and disposed of. This is a toxic notion, a slow poison, and in its later stages results in an inability to discern reason from fear, truth from propaganda, morality from tribalism.
If someone tells you that you should be afraid of some superficially-defined Other, that person is not your friend.
If someone tells you that if not for Them, all our problems would be solved, that person is a liar.
If someone tells you that you are more valuable than someone else because you look one way and They look another, that person is using you.
There are those—politicians, all, whether they serve in political capacities or not—who benefit from the rest of us being afraid. They categorize, sort, and judge and tell you to do the same on the basis of traits that are at their simplest none of your business and at the most complex entire fabrications that resemble fact but are nothing but fantasy. All they want is the power you will give them by accepting their version of reality.
It could not be clearer that none of this is theoretical. The cage doors have been flung open and the jackals are loose. We have always had the hatefilled, the small-minded, the stunted souls, the corrupted among us, but they stay usually in their rooms because—usually—the rest of us refuse to allow them valence. That changed. They received day passes.
Shooting up a synagogue, a church, a school, a nightclub, a concert because the shooter is so blindly afraid does not happen in a void. Someone stoked that fire, then stood back, counted the votes from the newly-frightened, and judged it a win.
This is not who we once thought we were. There are those implying that this is somehow insurmountable and to deal with it we have to go farther down the road of disowning our dreams and our decency and, by the way, keep Certain People “in line.”
They aren’t hiding anymore and the argument that both sides are equally at fault has worn into threads. Stop listening to the fear mongers. More, take away their pulpit.
We should not allow ourselves to be defined by body count.