Being afraid is also prominent in our analysis of why people may be prejudiced, outright hostile to different ‘others,’ or why they are xenophobic. Homophobia, is interestingly enough, the only word that describes anti-non-heterosexual violence in the US English lexicon. Heterosexism is seen as a precursor but is only used in social sciences classes and anti-oppression circles but is not part of the popular language. First, homophobia is a psychologized word. Psychology itself is a problem when it is the only lens through which we see violence and social exclusion playing out toward particular persons and ways of living and loving. Being afraid of Muslims–Islamophobia, is also prevalent nowadays, in speaking to anti-Muslim sentiment and action. This language allows us to ‘treat’ and ‘fix’ the offender who lashes out at, kills, maims, or socially ostracizes those who are deemed Muslim. In some cases, this extends not just to Muslim religious people but all people from the Middle East and/or South Asia regardless of whether they practice Islam. Many people from the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and East Asia are not Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist. But for prejudice and allowable social exclusion to work, Islamophobia plays out as something inside a person who is afraid of Muslims and those who may look supposedly like they are. This, however is legitimized by the current political climate of the US and certain western European governments applying their plan for colonizing Iraq in a more open fashion, using propaganda to do it. In this case, ‘terrorism’ and ‘anti-terrorism’ are two terms that are used to legitimize and de-legitimize people, groups, ways of thinking.
If it is labeled as such, or is thought to resemble, have the possibility of, then it is. At this point, the state officials (police, government officials, the military, the judicial systems, etc.) have the right to detain, question, torture, disappear, whatever it sees fit to do. After all, the public does not know who these people are so the state functionaries can do at will, what they do with permissions from us, the public. Or more accurately, the inactive and somehow in-agreement public. For the general public, it is left to be an individual to individual, group to group everyday affair, left to fend for ourselves. The general public is also given permission to enact this prejudice that the state practices. Although the President and others can say it is ‘bad,’ it is still already present and is not stopped or curtailed by the state. Only in speaking, in gesture, as if this is where violence begins.
In an anti-intellectual culture, where children and teenagers are bombarded by images of violence and sounds of snappy unkind speech in practically all comedies and dramas on television, inundated with police and secret agent shows and video games of gore and conquer, and movies of either romance or super-hero men and women, lives become constricted. In schools, critical thinking skills are not taught and it is not an accident. We also traverse within a nation where metaphysical thinking in relation to spirituality and religion and rationality are played out. There is no thinking outside of these systems to any large degree. There is also the proverbial war between rationality and faith. We go so far with rationality, but then excuse all sorts of thoughts, ideas, behaviors and ways of being when rationality is no longer working to present ourselves to others as ‘good.’
The other aspect of this being-seen-as-good syndrome in the US and most other rich nations, is the lack of attention paid to the underclassed peoples. Each socio-economic class, each race and ethnicity, each gender, each sexual-orientation group, each nationality, hangs out increasingly with each other and at the same time, people are more willing to be ‘good’ by befriending outside their group, or marrying outside the group as these desires become sexualized. Becoming the exotic feminine: pliable, desirable, and mysterious and WEAKER, is the way defeated and/or smaller countries are portrayed in the ways we speak about them. They must be conquered, entered, manipulated, taught how to behave, taught how to be civilized and modern. Taught how to be violent in the ways the dominant are violent. We can feel sorry for them too! After all, we are good. Where there is no critical thinking, there are automatic moves, motions, gestures, thoughts, and behaviors that move in these ways. Our actions and thoughts are very limited, controlled by dominant factors. They are dominant by both being enacted purposefully for control by the more wealthy and powerful and also by much of the general populace because it is easier and more familiar, more comfortable. It is even more so when one thinks that this is ‘human nature’ and that people have always been this way. People have been all kinds of ways!! Why are people limited to the ways of thinking and behavior that are controlled by propaganda or by our neighbors? In this way, all talk of human rights, love, social justice and social change, also become limited. It is transcorporate capitalist power-play that wants increasing territories of the self-same, in order to be able to extract resources and increase wealth. It is the supreme capitalist system which relies on exploitation. Now, as violence arises in most of the wealthy nations in the streets, between the classes and races, and divorces and domestic violence increases, and unhappiness becomes drugs, alcohol, addictions, numbing out, gnawing dissatisfactions, surely we must understand that we have learned to exploit ourselves and each other, or aware of it and are so disempowered we think we can do nothing about it. It is truly amazing how brainwashed people can be.
In an anti-intellectual climate, and where psychology is the only way to see the human being, there are not societies or people outside of these boxes. Fear is the way violence and exclusion and violence is languaged. If it is a riot or racism, then perhaps we call it racism or unhappiness or rage or being uncivilized. In this way, the expression of being dissatsified in a certain way is further controlled by the dominant language and is made easily ‘fixable’ by the dominant. Sometimes, the dominant is just extracting wealth from you. Why should we assume that they care? If we are fearless, then we can admit that we want THOSE people away, gone, disappeared. If we are not afraid of them or their religion or race or sexuality or way of walking or size, or color, then we are afraid of the possibility. IF we are truly not afraid, and we are GOOD, then one cannot possibly look at our racism or heterosexism or our nationalism and patriotism, and the other isms, in the face in our hearts. We don’t know what to do. We don’t even want to admit it to ourselves much less others. We don’t want to be seen going to an anti-oppression workshop, I’m not an oppressor! The self is important to us, at the cost of others. Extreme individualism has begun to have effects in the world as alienation and self-hatred, self-disgust, violence and sadness. Sometimes these things don’t look the way they traditionally do. Sometimes the rage and sadness and self-hatred looks like ‘going shopping’ or ‘watching eighty hours of television,’ or making ourselves feel only so much, then stopping ourselves so we can be ‘normal’ or the opposite: becoming ‘crazy’ and ‘spontaneous’ when it’s really not spontaneous at all. It’s alot of acting out. But I don’t want to say that these things shouldn’t be or not. I’m just pointing out ways we can see ourselves and become more creative.
The worldview that humans are like this and that we really don’t change, is the most dangerous one flying around. Even though we have seen plenty of people in our lives change throughout their lifetime, we somehow forget and make them anomalies. Our fear is more comforting. It does not start from fear. Fear is a BUFFER between reality and violence. Our historical legacies are violent. Violent. Violent. And most of it has been CREATED, constructed, subjected onto us and this is not just some natural, or normal. If you believe it is normal, you have stopped thinking. This is perfectly in keeping with anti-intellectualism. We don’t like thinkers, they mess things up. In so-called spiritual communities, sometimes they are told that ‘they’re not in their bodies’ or ‘they need to become embodied.’ The intellect is already assumed to be separate from the body. It’s the perfect trick. The perfect slavery to the capitalist leaders who make our food and control increasing amounts of water and destroy our bodies in order to make us go to doctors and make us dependent and also further distanced from each other so that creating communities becomes increasingly futile–so we think.
It is true that the traditions of academia, which are western in this globalizing world, have created thinking that leaves the peoples’ concerns in favor of theories and postulates. What is worse, these academics and the cream of the crop have worked for the most powerful people and organizations in the world in order to maintain that elite status in the world, controlling populations around the world. We don’t even see them. They are invisible among us. They do not care about the populace. They should, but they don’t and haven’t. They have amassed more resources and controlled more areas increasingly, around the globe. It has cost us. But in the mean time, they have set-up systems of knowledge and learning but not critical thinking and engagement. That would be too dangerous for them. They must keep most of the population from thinking. That would mean their own destruction. Unfortunately, there are many smart people who do not think critically. If they do, it’s favored toward the demise of certain communities, ideas, ways of thinking, people. This means that certain smart people have the resources to control and kill and twist and turn, without us knowing this is what they are doing, and they have resources to protect themselves and the rest of us become to busy fighting for our lives or maintaining our privileges. IN fact, those fighting for their lives become at odds with those maintaining their privileges. It becomes a war of survival. Does this sound familiar to you? ‘Only the strong survive?’ etc. This leaves out the fact that usually, in nature, the strong protect the weak. In our current system, the weak must fend for themselves and punished, or left as an afterthought if not. Certainly, if we are not wealthy in our old age, what happens to us? But we don’t care or want to see, or don’t have time.
Fear is a buffer. Fear of death. Fear of living. But it’s not really fear. It’s disempowerment. Disempowerment is a social phenomena that is not new, certainly. But the different ways of being disempowered have increased since globalization and nation-making. Globalization and nation-making cannot be possible without militarization and the exploitation of others. These cannot be done without most of the populace being made to believe certain things. In social science, it is understood that we are created, as much as our own self-making is done in the context of being made by larger forces. To think there is nothing we can do about all of it, is the success of the current mode of domination since the beginnings of nation-making and intensifying exponentially since World War I.
Can you get past the fear that has been placed before you? Can we learn to think instead of react and assume? Can we learn to think outside the boxes we think exist. Do we understand that many of us act and think the way we do because we’ve been trained to? Do we understand that our uniqueness may be in the ways we respond and change instead of conforming to non-comformity and conformity?
We are afraid of our own power. But it is a buffer from our beauty and power and togetherness, individualities, loves.