April 2018

Nikki Haley warned Chris Wallace on Fox News that if we aren’t careful, there will be a chemical weapons attack in America.

“This very easily could happen in the United States if we’re not smart, and if we’re not conscious of what’s happening.” 

It brings to mind Condoleeza Rice’s admonition about Saddam Hussein:

“The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Conservatives have a long and dishonorable history of using fear and paranoia to drive policy. FDR famously warned that all we had to “fear was fear itself”. Thirty years later Richard Hofstadter wrote his seminal essay in Harper’s, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”  illuminating how the right-wing scared the rank and file to death with boogeymen — communists, atheists, minorities, the UN, the Illuminati — i.e., the usual suspects.

As long as the strategy works, Republicans will use it. And nobody does it better than Trump. His dystopia is littered with raping Mexicans, terrorist refugees, the Deep State, an unaccountable FBI, and lawmaking courts.

Haley’s hysteria and Trump’s cynical rabble-rousing only serve to keep the average citizen’s eye off the ball. Spending billions defending ourselves against fantastical terrorist attacks diverts resources from finding cures from what actually kills us. And Trump’s attempt to build his pointless border wall leaves America’s crumbling bridges and roads to crumble some more.

The vast majority of Americans will die from heart attacks, cancer, and other diseases. External causes of death such as medical error, gun violence, other murders, accidents, car crashes, drug overdoses and hospital-related infection take far more lives than terrorism ever has. And in most years, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, animal attacks, food poisoning and domestic terrorism will kill more than foreign terrorism. Only shark attacks are rarer.

Christians should be gobsmacked that we are driven to spend so much to assuage unreasoning fear while children are dying of cancer and America leads the developed world in infant mortality.

As for infrastructure, Trump, his administration, and Congress should be writhing in embarrassment. Let one statistic illuminate the point. In a ranking of the world’s top airports, the top-rated American airport is Denver’s at 29. Republicans aren’t wholly responsible for the dismal state of affairs, but as long as they keep diverting money to overseas adventurism, we will see America continue to fray.

And it’s all possible because so many people sacrifice logic to abject, Fox-driven, administration-promoted, Trump-tweeted and Haley-repeated fear. And that is the terror which could kill you.

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