Conservatives Are Afraid Of Their Own Shadows, It Seems

As a young child, I believed ghost stories were true. I made my parents check my closet for monsters. I covered up my feet with my blankets, worried a nightmarish creature would lunge out from underneath my bed and pull me into Hades by my ankles. Many children have those irrational fears, and I was no exception.

And then I grew up.

I’ve never seen a ghost, nor have I ever seen any real evidence that they exist, so as far as I’m concerned, they don’t. The scariest things living under my bed are dust bunnies and loose change (all those dead presidents… spooky!). I’m not saying there aren’t things in this world that scare me. I’m saying that I approach things as rationally as I can, and I never assume bumps in the night will end in my sudden and unfortunate demise.

But for reasons beyond my comprehension, conservatives seem to be afraid of almost everything. They hear a bump in the night, panic, shout “Benghazi!” in terror, and then search their homes to make sure President Obama hasn’t snuck in to steal their firearms. They live in a constant state of fear. They’re scaredy cats. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why their own shadows terrify them to their cores.

To list all of the things conservatives are afraid of would require a whole series of articles, but chances are you already know the things I’m talking about. They’re afraid of terrorists, Muslims, homosexuals, transgender people. They’re afraid someone is going to break into their homes to murder them, and Obama will have taken their guns away. They’re afraid of the government. They’re afraid of change. Afraid of progress. Afraid of everything.

Are those fears rational? Absolutely not. Are they based on consistent, confirmable data? Not a chance. But conservatives seem to always allow their fears, however intangible or reckless, to dictate their views on just about everything remotely political.

I’m a progressive. I’m not afraid of any of those things listed above. I have extended family members and friends who are Muslims. I know they’re not terrorists, and I’m not afraid of them. I have family and friends who are gay, lesbian, and transgender. Nothing to fear there, either. And there have been occasions where I woke up to find that my front door was unlocked all through the evening. Nothing was stolen, and I wasn’t murdered either, as far as I’m aware.

So what is it that makes conservatives so terrified of everything? Why do conservatives base their political views on fear, whereas progressives base our views on compassion? What is the evolution — sorry — the intelligent design of their fear?

I’ve heard many a conservative try to tell me that while “not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims.” Is there any evidence of that? No. Do they make any effort to meet with Muslims and ask them questions that might confirm their fears? No. Do they attempt to grasp the sophisticated and subtle nuances of regional politics in and around the theocratic states controlled by Islam? Or the beliefs of Muslim individuals or groups? Or the numerous socioeconomic factors and the roles they play? Definitely not.

I’m not saying I understand all of those factors, either. Well, I do understand them better than most Americans, but only because I write about politics for a living, and you pick stuff up when you cover these topics for a while. But my views are based in compassion, not fear. I have friends and close, extended family who are Muslims. They aren’t terrorists. These are people I love and admire. Their faith doesn’t divide us.

The same bizarre thing happens when conservatives look at the LGBT community. How does homosexuality destroy the supposed “sanctity of marriage?” It doesn’t. There isn’t a rational, reasonable argument to the contrary. But despite that, they still believe marriage equality is wrong. They believe transgender women only want to gain access to the women’s bathroom to sexually assault their children. There’s no basis in reality there, but they’ll believe it regardless, and they’ll find whatever random, obscure, utterly rare stories they can to confirm their theories. Why? Because fear is one hell of a powerful motivator… that’s why.

Irrational Fear Leads To Inexplicable Suffering

To quote Master Yoda, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” The tiny green Jedi is on to something, isn’t he? Just look at the things Republicans often propose. Look at the things they say. Look at how some small minority of conservatives have lashed out against society.

You don’t need to look far to find examples of right-wing domestic terrorists causing pandemonium here in the United States. We saw it at a black church in Charleston, at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. We saw it in the murders of abortion doctors and the bombings of clinics. We saw it in the murder of police officers in Las Vegas. We saw it when a group of right-wing nuts plotted to attack US military personnel during Operation Jade Helm.  I’ve seen it personally in death threats sent to me by conservatives who didn’t like the things I was writing over the years.

The fear is there, the anger is there, the hatred is there, and all too often, the suffering attempts to join its siblings on center stage.

So why are conservatives so terrified of everything all of the time? Why do they immerse themselves in states of constant fear and allow said fear to dictate their decisions, their political views, their very lives? Your guess is as good as mine. I just hope they sort it all out soon. That’s probably the only way they’ll come to appreciate our compassion, and isn’t compassion the most American thing a person can offer their neighbors?

Photo by StefanRheone