The only thing to fear

Published 10:33 pm Saturday, December 13, 2014

Maybe it’s an echo from violent days gone by, warning something is spiraling out of control again. Maybe history is sounding an alarm as loud today as during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential inauguration roughly 82 years ago.

FDR spoke to the chaos only war can bring. His was a simple yet timeless truth. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Fear is America’s deepest-seeded and most sinister adversary at this point in history.

Email newsletter signup

It is the opponent best equipped to unravel our nation from the inside out.

I had a conversation recently with a young white gun advocate. He takes his handgun to the grocery store with his wife and daughter. When asked why, he said, “Because someone could knock me in the head and rape my wife.” In the grocery store? In the parking lot? With his screaming daughter watching?

His only reason for packing has to do with a self perpetuating, irrational and imagined fear.

A similar mindset appears responsible for Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s actions. His grand jury testimony is packed with wild assumptions and colossal leaps in paranoid thought.

The Washington Post describes a frightened man who could not see Mike Brown, the person. “Wilson told the story of three minutes of hot confusion, shattered glass, a misfired gun, fear and a look of anger that came across Brown’s face that Wilson said made him ‘look like a demon.’”

I think it’s reasonably safe to assume shooting anyone for any reason will make them angry. But demonizing Brown gave Wilson even more reason to keep firing, to kill. A mind that unstable has thought that way before, thinks that way often and has no business on any police force at any place or time.

My growing concern has to do with premeditation, with officers making up their minds to shoot before there’s a threat. In Cleveland a cop shot 12-year-old Tamar Rice for holding an air gun to his side just two seconds after getting out of his cruiser. That’s not enough time to tell him to drop it. The implication is that this officer decided to kill while on the way.

Combine these police actions with the deeply ingrained paranoia demonstrated by Missourians buying up ammunition, and a disturbing thought process emerges, thinking that teeters on the brink of folks believing they can legally kill on the basis of their personal racial fears.

It’s as if a growing number of whites are preparing for a race war. Could it be based on some belief that African-Americans will do to them what they would do had they been enslaved for more than 400 years?

Inter-racial revenge is not a part of the cultural nature of African Americans. If it were, then Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner and Denmark Vessy would not have been encumbered by fellow slaves.

U.S. Justice Department Crime Statistics show murder in America, as a category, is intra-racial by nature, with 84 percent of white homicide victims murdered by whites, and 93% of black victims murdered by blacks. So statistically, when it comes to murder, one group has little to fear from the other, unless a police officer’s involved.

How can any parent tell their children to trust officers who continually act out of fear? Are taxpayers wrong to expect police officers to act out of reasonable training, and not based on whether the guy is black and bigger than they are?

Unfortunately in America scared police officers are becoming worse than the enemies of WWII. They are the reason for “fear itself.”