Honest Cowardice

Sep 2017
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Massachusetts
Sacha Baron Cohen's Israeli anti-terrorism-expert character managed to get a vile Republican state representative to reveal his bigotry -- yelling racist epithets, etc., to the point that even the Republicans are denouncing him:

https://slate.com/culture/2018/07/who-is-america-georgia-lawmaker-jason-spencer-yells-racial-slurs-in-anti-terrorism-video.html

What I find fascinating is how strangely honest the man has been, in his response. In effect, he has argued that he's frightened of terrorism to the point of being witless, and that Cohen took advantage of that:

"Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked..... As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these “techniques” were meant to help me and others fend off what I believe was an inevitable attack... My fears were so heightened at that time, I was not thinking clearly, not could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his ‘class’.... If I had not been so distracted by my fears, I never would have agreed to participate in the first place."

It's not often a wingnut will admit in such a forthright manner that his intellect has been completely debilitated by fear. But I think that such cowardice is behind much of what has gone wrong on the American right in recent years.

About two years after 9/11, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who lived in Manhattan at the time, and we were talking about the terrorism threat, and how so much of the nation had gone off the rails after 9/11. What struck us both as strange is the way that the fear of terrorism seemed almost inversely proportional to exposure to it. At the time, my friend worked in a high-rise in lower Manhattan, and I regularly flew out of Logan Airport for work. Those are two things you'd think would make us extraordinarily concerned about terrorism, given the details of how 9/11 played out. Yet neither of us was terribly concerned. We didn't support "preventative war" on Iraq, nor erosions of civil liberties in the name of security. We opposed extra-judicial detentions at Gitmo, torture of suspects at Abu Ghraib, warrantless electronic surveillance, etc. We understood the terrorist threat was, statistically, quite small, and we weren't willing to be buffaloed into betraying America's ideals for the promise of a little safety.

I'm not trying to brag that we were particularly courageous. That was a pretty common attitude in the kinds of places most likely to be targeted by terrorists. It was an attitude shared by another of my friends who worked in a government building in DC, and yet another who lived in LA, and various coworkers in London. Yet, far from those places, there were people absolutely losing their shit about the terrorist threat -- people trying to hermetically seal their houses against anthrax with duct tape, or compiling arsenals of military-style semi-automatic rifles, etc. And they were willing to throw away their civil liberties and to back an illegal war of aggression, if a politician promised it would make them just a bit safer.

I could almost understand if somewhere like Manhattan or DC became the epicenter of mass hysteria about terrorism. Even though, statistically, terrorism has been almost a meaningless factor even in those places, they're prominent enough on the terrorist radars that it's not unthinkable that someday someone may detonate a suitcase nuke in such a location. But the mass hysteria, instead, radiated out from places like the rural Bible Belt.... towns that the members of ISIS and Al Qaeda have never even heard of, and wouldn't bother striking. It's bizarre.

And I think a similar geographic paradox of fear can be seen outside the area of terrorism. For example, the relatives I see most frequently on Facebook bringing up the supposed "carnage" of crime and gangs (Trump's words) are not city dwellers, but instead people living in podunk cowtowns. And those quaking in their boots, whimpering for Trump to build his wall aren't generally those who live in high-immigration states like California, New York, and New Jersey (the three states with the highest percentage of immigrants, at least as of 2015), but instead low-immigration states.

I'm not sure what drives such irrational and disproportionate fear among right-wingers. But I think their terror is a huge part of what has gone wrong with this country. While most of us retain our ability to think rationally and proportionally about risks, there's a core of wingnuts who have been so debilitated by their own cowardice that they're taking the nation down with them.
 
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May 2016
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california
If those living in the country are quaking in their boots they are also arming to the teeth. And if it's irrational then it'd be better stay away from them.
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
[warning]Thread moved from Current Events to Political Discussion.[/warning]
 
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Jan 2016
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Colorado
Those rural route rubes are at FAR greater risk of dying from an asteroid impact than they are from dying in a terrorist attack. But if you were to tell them that, they just might keel over from laughing at you.

They have a VERY low opinion of smarty-pants scientest fellers and alla their high-falutin' notions.
 
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Sep 2017
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Massachusetts
Those rural route rubes are at FAR greater risk of dying from an asteroid impact than they are from dying in a terrorist attack. But if you were to tell them that, they just might keel over from laughing at you.

They have a VERY low opinion of smarty-pants scientest fellers and alla their high-falutin' notions.
Even in Manhattan, the risk of any individual being killed in a terrorist attack is negligible. Somewhere like Tupolo, Mississippi or Murphy, Texas, it's non-existent. But, for some reason, certain kinds of Americans are VERY easily manipulated with fear. I'd love to know why that is. Why are the people of New York or L.A. so much sturdier, emotionally, than rural red-staters?
 
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Feb 2011
17,042
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Boise, ID
Sacha Baron Cohen's Israeli anti-terrorism-expert character managed to get a vile Republican state representative to reveal his bigotry -- yelling racist epithets, etc., to the point that even the Republicans are denouncing him:

https://slate.com/culture/2018/07/who-is-america-georgia-lawmaker-jason-spencer-yells-racial-slurs-in-anti-terrorism-video.html

What I find fascinating is how strangely honest the man has been, in his response.
You have a broken bullshit detector if that's really what you think.

The guy was played for a fool in such epic fashion that his political career is likely over because of it. He is attempting to make up a rationalization for his cringe-worthy gullibility and laughably stupid behavior. The "honesty" was in the video that Baron Cohen captured. The bullshit was his last-ditch-effort damage-control attempt.
 
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May 2016
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An incoming comet, except for the radiation, wouldn't be all that different than a terrorist nuclear event, assuming they still want something big to go bang. But in defense of rustic rubes everywhere (and for any nice rustics that might share their food with me if I should happen to make it to there during a holocaust), they would probably have a higher chance of survival than those dependent on the city of New York to provide the necessities of life, who are somewhat removed from the reality of providing for themselves.
 
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Jan 2016
57,388
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Even in Manhattan, the risk of any individual being killed in a terrorist attack is negligible. Somewhere like Tupolo, Mississippi or Murphy, Texas, it's non-existent. But, for some reason, certain kinds of Americans are VERY easily manipulated with fear. I'd love to know why that is. Why are the people of New York or L.A. so much sturdier, emotionally, than rural red-staters?
We are fortunate that the terrorists themselves deeply misunderstand the American psyche. If they wanted to truly maximize the terror, the psychological damage that they could inflict on the American populace, instead of targeting our major population centers like New York City or Los Angeles, or our major governmental centers like Washington, D.C., they would focus their efforts at creating a high-casualty event in some medium-sized American city, and in the heartland, rather than on the coasts.


Imagine the psychic damage that a terrorist attack killing 3000 Americans would have, if it took place in, say, Kalamazoo, Michigan; or Davenport, Iowa; or Omaha, Nebraska; or Loveland, Colorado; or Ogden, Utah.


Something like that would be FAR more terrifying to the average American than another mass casualty attack in New York City. It would make Americans feel as if NOWHERE was safe anymore.


Perhaps this post should be immediately censored.....
 
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Jun 2014
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An incoming comet, except for the radiation, wouldn't be all that different than a terrorist nuclear event, assuming they still want something big to go bang. But in defense of rustic rubes everywhere (and for any nice rustics that might share their food with me if I should happen to make it to there during a holocaust), they would probably have a higher chance of survival than those dependent on the city of New York to provide the necessities of life, who are somewhat removed from the reality of providing for themselves.

New York City pays it's residents to be there?

Hell, I never knew that.
 
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Sep 2017
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Massachusetts
If those living in the country are quaking in their boots they are also arming to the teeth. And if it's irrational then it'd be better stay away from them.
It is irrational. However, as a straight, white, native born American, I don’t terrify them like most people do, so there’s less chance of them panicking and shooting me in a fear haze.
 
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