Monday, January 30, 2017

Today's MOZEN: The Anatomy of Fear and Loathing *

F LoBuono

FEAR and LOATHING

It's a term that I use quite frequently, especially lately. Under the current conditions, it certainly seems to apply.

Or, does it?

When I question the root of a word or slogan, I often go to the dictionary to research the literal meaning. This is what I discovered:

  1. fear and loathing(Noun)
    The type of anger and distrust generated when politicians or representatives of the American legal hierarchy (i.e. District Attorneys) clash, or disagree, with the people they are paid to represent, causing a threat to the people.
  2. Origin: Popularized by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in his 1972 novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and used widely afterwards. Source: Wiktionary

The late, great, iconoclast, Hunter S. Thompson, actually first used the term much early than that in a letter expressing his outrage over the assassination of John F. Kennedy (1964) . As stated in the definition, it became widely known much later through the success of his novel "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Thompson also used it frequently thereafter. However, as a phrase, it is not unique to Thompson. It has been used by many writers, including (possibly first) Friedrich Nietzsche in "The Antichrist". Be that as it may, the meaning, as conveyed by Thompson, is particularly apropos today:

The type of anger and distrust generated when politicians or representatives of the American legal hierarchy (i.e. District Attorneys) clash, or disagree, with the people they are paid to represent, causing a threat to the people.

With the plethora of controversial Executive Orders (EO) issued by President Trump causing mass confusion and conflict among the people, he has, indeed, created much Fear and Loathing. This is not to say that the President does not have support of a great deal of the Country - over 62 million people voted for him and continue to back him. However, there is a SIGNIFICANT amount of our fellow Americans who simply will not support these actions. And, they are doing everything they can to exercise their rights as American citizens by raising their voices in opposition to his policies. They see this administration as the very embodiment of Fear and Loathing, i.e. it does not have their best interests at heart.

I am not a political scientist or an economist. So, it is difficult for me to comment specifically on the administration's actions as an "expert". However, I do fancy myself as a keen observer of people and human nature. My work in TV news and as a teacher has trained me to look for things in peoples' behavior that may predict their actions. With this is mind, I will give my reasons as to why I believe they are causing so much Fear and Loathing and are, therefore, doomed to fail:

Simply put, they are mean-spirited in nature. And, laws built on such a shoddy foundation cannot stand.

This may seem like emotional babble but, it's far from that. There are consequences beyond just dollars and cents and "the here and now".

At the root of the Executive Orders is an ugly distrust of the nature of the people they will affect the most. For example, the EO issued to build a wall on our border with Mexico claims, mostly without merit, that the Mexicans who do cross the border illegally do so because of their nefarious nature. Remember, the President said, "they are rapists. They are drug dealers, etc.". Of course, most people of conscience know this to be absurd. And, besides the debate which questions a wall's effectiveness and who will actually pay for it, it creates a tremendous amount of ill will between two countries - and peoples - who are inextricably linked! Spreading this type of Fear and Loathing can take generations to repair.

The same can be true of the EO halting immigration from seven, predominantly Muslim countries. The administration has defended the procedure claiming it is only temporary, it is not targeting Muslims specifically, and it is in the best interest of the US. However, again, despite evidence to the contrary, the SPIRIT of the EO brings into focus the WORST nature of the people is intends to exclude. It does not take into account that the overwhelming majority of the people entering from those countries are simply desperate women and children. It also insults the Muslims from those countries who are already living here and are major contributors to our society. Once again, it does little more than create Fear and Loathing. It will not be easily forgotten - not only by those it effects the most, but all moral people all over the world. And, it creates mistrust that can be downright dangerous. We are already in a battle for the "hearts and minds" of young Muslims, many who already have a healthy distrust of American intentions. And, people really believe that this will not have a lasting, NEGATIVE impact? Really?

Violence against Americans is the potential long term effect of orders that debase rather than uplift, that exclude rather than include, that builds walls instead of bridges. Mr. Trump claimed in his inauguration address that he would be a uniter and heal a divided Country. So far, they are words that ring hollow. His actions have not created unity. In fact, the have turned a seam into a chasm. Yes, he has his base that cannot be shaken. But, he also has a significant MAJORITY that simply will not accept his policy of Fear and Loathing.

Thank you Dr. Thompson (and professor Nietzsche) for your warning of a distopian future. It is now up to us to win it back.

*The opinions expressed above are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of any other person or entity.


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