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Keep ‘em Scared & Keep ‘em Stupid
An American liberal doesn’t want to let free-dumb ring…
by Vincent Yanez
Did I scare you? No? Let me try again. Terrorism! WMDs! Socialism! Marxist! Muslim! Anti-Christ! Death Panels! Kenyan! Gay Agenda! Controlled Market Economy! Government Takeover! Loss of Freedom! BOOO!!! Are you shaking? Or have you run to your closet to get your gun? Fear has the same basis as hate, prejudice and ignorance. Fear is brought on by the unwillingness to become informed, to read, or to ask questions, to listen, to wonder and to learn. Fear is the result of embracing ignorance then allowing others to tell you how to think, what to feel…and whom to be afraid of. Fear has always been around, it’s nothing new. We called Native Americans savages and treated them inhumanely; because they were different than we were, we feared them. We imprisoned the Japanese-Americans during the World War II; we were fearful of what they ‘might’ do. We allowed McCarthyism to go haywire, because we feared the communist agenda. Just recently, we allowed a president to kill American soldiers and millions of civilians simply because he shouted the words TERRORISM! AXIS OF EVIL! PATRIOTISM! Every time a liberal wins office, the sale of guns skyrockets. When it came to light that George W. Bush had shirked his National Guard duties, documents were produced and witnesses came forward to confirm his absence, yet those who brought it up were branded as unpatriotic and un-American. When it was revealed that John Kerry was a veteran and a swift boat commander, conservative Vietnam veterans chastised him for becoming an advocate for peace after he was honorably discharged. As president, Bush’s status remained secure; John Kerry was suddenly a questionable patriot. Now switch to the present for more inside-out logic and double-speak. When President Obama says we need healthcare reform, the political/religious right wing accuses him of wanting to kill your grandmother and ruin the country. When he tells kids to stay in school he is indoctrinating them (a la Chairman Mao) and ruining the country. When kids sing about our president they are being brainwashed to help him ruin the country. When he signed a stimulus package he was ruining the country for future generations and “tea parties” sprang up around the country. When he gained the respect of countries around the world for his intelligence and thoughtful speeches, he brought respect back to the office, while to his critics he was playing to the masses as a celebrity, a liberal ‘messiah’ and even the anti-Christ. Such values really confuse me - the fear, the hate, and allowing others to decide what is right, what is wrong and what must remain unquestioned. It is the mantra of the so-called Christian right, and it has been a staple of organized religions for years, keeping people too scared to ask questions, or to speak out against what the church does in the name of righteousness. Now please don’t think I’m categorizing all Christians, religions or types of worship. To paint a broad stroke of assumption would be unfair and…stupid, but the question still begs to be answered: Why so much fear among some? I had a conversation with a Christian a few weeks ago. It began when she said she didn’t believe in evolution. “What about dinosaurs, petrified wood, Darwin’s research and carbon dating?” I asked.
Nope, none of that mattered. The Bible told her the earth was about 4000 to 10,000 years old, that God created a man, a woman and a garden, and that is what she believed. I came back, “What about fossils? They aren’t fakes! They are real, they are old, and they are all over the earth!” “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “Nothing you say will convince me.”
Nearly every museum in the world has fossils of creatures that lived millions of years ago. I live only a few hours away from a forest of trees that have petrified to become stone. You can go to most any country in the world and find cave paintings. So I asked her, “How is it you can believe a book that tells the story of a talking snake and a ‘bad’ apple, a burning bush, and a fish that keeps a man in his belly, and yet the research of thousands of scientists over hundreds of years holds no water with you?” She shrugged, “That doesn’t matter,” she said. She simply wasn’t going to be told that her beliefs were wrong. I tried another tactic. According to the Christian Right, God is against abortion, gay marriage and socialism. How come, if these things are so important, they were never actually mentioned in the Bible? If God was intimately involved with the writing of the Bible, why didn’t he talk about germs and microorganisms, instead of saying illness was caused by demons? Why didn’t he mention condoms, abstinence or keeping his name in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why are such talking points not really mentioned in the Bible at all? She got angry with me; apparently I was being condescending. She said, “God is a Spiritual Being who doesn’t tell us everything on purpose. We are not meant to know everything or what he is thinking. God is too immense a being for mere humans to understand why things are true, we just need to know that it is true…that is the definition of Faith.” Then she added, “There is no doubt in my mind and heart that what I believe is true, so why would I feel the need to question it?” I saw an opening: “So how do you know that he’s against gay marriage and abortion so adamantly, when he is so confusing we don’t know what he is thinking?” Didn’t work, I was told that was because the Bible was TRUTH and that belief without question was FAITH, and that it was all written in the Bible for me to see, if I really wanted to. My question is this: How can one not wonder? How can one not question when incontrovertible facts are presented? Why should being devoted necessarily mean being uninformed? Why should Faith preclude a lack of interest in what else is out there? Why is questioning ones beliefs so dangerous? We spend more time asking questions about a washing machine we are thinking of purchasing than we do about our Eternal Salvation. God gave each of us a brain, isn’t it a disservice the Him to refuse to use it? What would happen if we just stood up one Sunday, interrupted our pastor and said, “Um, I don’t agree with what you just said, can we discuss it?”
The answer I was given: Because it’s the TRUTH and that is all we need to know.
Every society, culture and religion has its truths. Muslims consider making ritual prayer five times a day a religious duty and they make up 23% of the world population. Mormons believe in the divine origin of the Book of Mormon and baptize the dead to give them the option of getting into Heaven by proxy; there are about 14 million Mormons around the world. Catholics believe they are the One True Church and have around 1.1 billion members. Baptists number around 110 million; they welcome members who fully understand and make a profession of faith of their own volition and comprehension. Evangelicalism holds a belief in personal conversion (being born again), and they number around 400 million. Each of these religions has one thing in common, their TRUTH. They all believe that they are the one true path, the one true way. Each believes that all the others are doing it incorrectly or not completely. Not all people within these groups may feel this way; but overall, most religions see their way as the one and only path to everlasting paradise. How does this relate to politics? A more pertinent question might be how does it not? Every time I discuss politics with a neo-conservative, the discussion somehow seems to navigate toward religion. Three separate family members of mine go to three different churches, and they have all said that they were advised that voting for Obama was a sin, because of his pro-choice views. George W. Bush talked about God for eight years. He talked about praying for guidance and then invaded a country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. He talked about America going back to Christian Values as people were being tortured with his ‘blessing’. He made a pro-life stance, yet for eight years did nothing to stop abortion besides stop funding for a science that was using stem cells that were never going to become anything other than garbage, stem cells that might someday help us cure such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He didn’t save one unborn baby, but annihilated almost a million of God’s children. On the other side of the proverbial coin, President Obama was recently put through the ringer for saying that our country, even though the majority is Christian, was a land of many beliefs. It’s true! Twenty-five percent of Americans now call themselves either non-believers or unaffiliated with a specific religion. That’s one out of every four people! Yet the ‘Christian’ right wing somehow decided he was speaking evil and marching America toward the gates of hell. Last week I watched one of those religious shows that pretends to be a news program, but is clearly about spreading nonsense. They talked about how the first seal (of the seven seals toward Revelation) had already come true, because it says that a great peace maker will rise up to bring peace to the world. Their proof was that President Obama recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a peacemaker talked about as if he were a horrible human being. Another similar show I watched featured a man who liked to smack his bible when he talked saying that President Obama was the anti-Christ incarnate. Why? He proclaimed that it was because since January, Obama has slowly been taking America away from God and Christian Values. For an entire hour he gasped for air as he preached fear. Recently, a Muslim-American allegedly opened fire on innocent men and women on a military base. The investigation is just a few days old. Today, someone suggested to me that we shouldn’t even put the shooter on trial; we should just fry his ass, because we all know he is a terrorist. Why, I ask, would a patriotic American – a Constitutionalist by proclamation – not want this man to go through our legal system? Why would anyone be proud of living in a democracy such as that of the United States and then want to bypass the very laws that guarantee due process? If he is a terrorist then he will be treated as such, but until that time, he deserves to be treated as fairly as any other citizen, innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt! Recently, a conservative website featured a story on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, along with a picture of President Reagan holding his hands up in triumph. Not once did it mention the fact that it was Gorbachev that systematically deconstructed the Soviet Union until it was no longer able to sustain itself. I guess it is easier, and more convenient, to believe that an American actor shouted ‘Tear Down This Wall’ and Communism simply collapsed on such powerful words. Ask a stout conservative and they will tell you that Reagan brought down the Iron Curtain amongst many other amazing accomplishments during his time in office. Ask someone who reads and studies or likes to learn and they will tell you what really happened in the late 1980s. Why is being incorrect and ill-informed embraced so readily? I’ve met people who rail that President Obama is a socialist, yet can’t tell me what socialism really is. But they know it must be bad because it’s not something we want in America, or so they’ve heard. I explain to them that our fire and police departments are forms of socialism. Systems created for the betterment of society and paid for with contributions from all members of society. Social Security and Medicare are both social systems. The post office, the military and AmeriCorp are all forms of socialism. Then I read that 64% of conservatives get their news from Fox News and over 30% of conservatives on Medicare do not know that it is government run. Our military has a form of healthcare provided by the government and paid for by taxpayers, essentially, a government sponsored healthcare system. If this is so wrong, then why are we turning our brave men and women into socialists? When did Freedom become FreeDumb? Fox News yells out Socialism, Marxism, Terrorism and Government Takeover. Each and every pundit is dead serious and spitting fire, crying and red in the face, shouting, screaming and rallying around the old oak tree. It’s serious business. They are out to save your country, to save your children’s future and to save your soul. And there’s the connection. They are out to save you from Socialism, Marxism, Terrorism, Liberalism, Satanism and Sin. They are serious and angry because it’s not just four years of a liberal president they must endure, it’s the loss of our freedom, the destruction of our constitution and it’s the end of the world both politically and religiously! It’s the killing of unborn babies, its taxes for the rest of our lives and it’s the dismantling of the foundations of this great country. It’s unpatriotic to want our soldiers’ home because a true American just says he supports our troops and then shuts the hell up. It’s unpatriotic to march against war or for gay rights; a true American fights for what is morally just in the eyes of the Lord. And yes, if you point out that it seems that killing people in other countries, for unjust reasons, may seem to be opposite of what God would have wanted, they’ll have answers and justifications; they always do. When a conservative government is in charge, the world is full of enemies, and we are indoctrinated to fear them, because all they really want to do is destroy our freedom. If there was no one to hate, to fear, to shoot at or to try and democratize, I suppose, they would not know what to do with themselves. Fear and hate, somehow along the way, became what justifies their existence. It is possible to shape cultural bias peddling (or propagandizing) hate, but it is even possible to reach deeper emotional levels if fear is added to the mix. The same fear that keeps them in the pews on Sundays causes them to march to save their country from the socialist regime. Ask them why, and they will tell you they love our country, they have faith in democracy, they know the truth of what is actually happening and they are afraid of losing the values that America was founded upon. When such attitudes and behaviors become status quo opinons and actions I almost want to curse this country and its willingness to let the hateful, the uninformed and the racists rule our national consciousness and policies. I despise how idiocy, stupidity and ignorance have become the dominant (or at least the loudest) voice in this wonderful land that my grandfather fought for in World War II. I am ashamed that when we protest the war, we are called un-American, we are called unpatriotic and we are told over and over that we can either ‘Love It or Leave It’. Yet, when calm voices can be heard in a time of crashing cymbals, you know democracy is not yet dead, and in fact, that is when it is at its strongest.
About the author: Vincent Yanez is the author of two books:
IT DOESN'T MATTER WHICH ROAD YOU TAKE(available in paperback,2007). About a three-month backpacking trip through 14 European Countries, and the magic that can happen when idiots put on backpacks and are let loose on the world.
EINSTEIN'S SHUTTER(available for Kindle, iPhone and iPod Touch, 2009). A whirlwind journey into a decade of one man's life, in New York City, during what turns out to be one of the most horrific times in U.S. History, 9/11, and the power of the human spirit in a man, and a city, finding the strength they need to rise again. .
Both books have been printed in one language, including some form of English. Mr. Yanez lives in Arizona with his life coach, Feng Shui master and schnauzer, Mr. Sidney Bernstein.
Mr. Yanez has won no great literary awards or recognition, but waits for the frenzy of adoration to begin at any moment. Mr. Yanez enjoys the smell of rain, long walks on the beach and the crunch of a warm, crispy tater tot.
Mr. Yanez currently lives in a small mining town in Arizona, where he sometimes finds time to write in between bouts of writers block. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Einstein's Shutter link: