When the Paris attacks happened, I expected a push to re-invade Iraq and put boots on the ground in Syria. (That’s why I focused last week’s featured post on the fact that ISIS wants us to do that.) What I wasn’t expecting, and feel a little silly about not foreseeing, was the demonization of Syrian refugees and American Muslims. That wave of public hysteria has been building all week, sweeping up even my own Democratic governor and congresswoman, and causing Republicans to say some things that sound downright fascist. (Explaining what I mean by fascist and why I think it’s appropriate to start using that word is what I’ve got planned for next week.)
But tempting as it is to blame politicians for all this craziness, I really think the problem is us, the American people. Some of us have gotten swept away by cruel, xenophobic impulses, and many of the rest of us have either taken a well-maybe-you’re-right, maybe-just-a-touch-of-fascism attitude. Or we were intimidated into silence, or defended our position in a way that just mirrored the hysteria of the other side. (That’s not how you talk somebody down.) Sad to say, our political representatives have been doing a pretty good job of representing us.
So if you accept that this is the public’s problem, the next thing you realize is that we’re going to have to step up and fix this. The insanity is only going to slow down if ordinary people stand up for reasonability in our conversations, our social media, and elsewhere. The politicians won’t get saner until the public gets saner.
How to take up that challenge is the subject of this week’s featured post, “In times of hysteria”. It will be out a little bit later than usual, maybe around 10 EST. That’s going to run a little long, so the weekly summary will be correspondingly thin: a variety of odds and ends concluding in a great song-and dance video. (We need something like that about now.)