1000 Words: The Panic Party

I often stand in awe of the things people on the Right believe and are scared to death of. For decades, for instance, gun-fondlers have been shrieking to high heaven that “they” are gonna take away our guns. The NRA and its followers have been touting that line since at least the early 1980s.

In the ensuing decades, there’ve been two two-term Democratic presidents as well as a one-termer (thus far). And the US Senate and House have been led by Democrats at various times, occasionally both at the same time. Nevertheless, there’s been no significant federal gun legislation enacted since the Brady Bill in 1993 and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994. The latter of which, BTW, lapsed quietly in 2004. Now, gun-loving Americans can freely purchase and possess the equivalent of military firearms easily and relatively cheaply once again, just the way god intended.

Still, when Joe Biden ran against the 45th President of the United States in 2020, the “they’re coming for our guns” canard was tossed around liberally (yeah, it’s a pun) by Republican candidates for everything from dog-catcher to POTUS. We’re nearly three years into the Biden presidency — and he’s been backed by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress — yet so far…, well, nothing. Nothing, that is, save for a symbolic House vote to approve a new semi-automatic gun ban this past July. Symbolic because there was absolutely zero chance it would pass through the Senate. House Republican opponents sneered at the bill, saying it was nothing more than an election year stunt. And they were right.

Guns remain the most precious, sacrosanct possessions among tens of millions of Americans, second only, I’d guess, to salt- and sugar-laden white-flour foods deep fried in canola oil.

Whoever “they” are, they’re about as effective against gun hoarders as crash diets are against obesity.

The Right also lives in fear of anybody identifying as LGBTQI. The idea of M-to-F trans people using the women’s rest room sends chills up and down millions of people’s spines. What they imagine goes on in women’s rest room is beyond me, but if their worst fears about it were true, there’d be no call for internet hook-up sites anymore.

You don’t hear much about Antifa these days but just a couple of years ago whoever they were occupied the thoughts and terrors of many Republicans. Antifa, they claimed, were burning down our cities. As recently as January 6, 2021 and in the days immediately following, Antifa was portrayed as a gang of brilliant mimes, dressing up as MAGA insurrectionists and storming the United States Capitol.

I could go on and on but you get the picture. The Right and most of the Republican Party live in a constant state of panic. Many, many, many of their frights are about as reasonable as that of a four-year-old certain there is a monster under the bed.

The R & Rs seem to have this whole alarmist thing down pat. Nothing drives people to act like dread fear and Republicans use that to drive people to the polls.

That said, lots of folks on my side of the fence use the same tactic, whether intentional or not.

A few years ago, the Cassini space probe, sent to explore Saturn and its moons, turned its cameras back toward Earth. The resulting photo showed a tiny blue-ish dot, surprisingly modest yet still beautiful. A commenter under one of the news story posts about the photo said something on the order of If we keep fouling the Earth the way we are, that little dot will soon disappear.

Which is no less unreasonable than the fear that “they” are on the verge of seizing everybody’s guns or that drag queens will be kidnapping six-year-olds from public rest rooms. No reputable experts foresee the entire planet disappearing, no matter how much smoke and toxic flotsam we belch into the air and our oceans.

Another Left panic is we’re running out of water. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. The Earth contains the same amount of water it always has. Water does not disappear, nor is it transformed through chemical reaction into something else. There is indeed a water crisis in certain parts of the world but that’s because too many people have migrated to urban centers far from fresh water. And when there are droughts, the rivers and streams that are tapped at a distance to supply those populations run low.

I’ve had two guests on my Big Talk program who were well versed in this. One was a hydrologist and the other researched people’s environmental knowledge and attitudes. Both reinforced my understanding that the Earth’s water is not disappearing, only that it costs too much to desalinate and/or transport water to ocean-bordering or desert cities. The populations of those cities will undoubtedly suffer, even as, for instance, the rust belt cities of the midwest, intentionally built near huge supplies of fresh water are losing people — and have been since at least the 1960s.

And much of the exodus out of places like Detroit and St. Louis and even Chicago was driven by — yep — perhaps the first big R & R panic. Black people were said to be taking over big cities; so said the law and order candidates including Richard Nixon and the Republicans who came after him. Next thing you know, they warned, the Blacks’ll be coming into your neighborhood, for your daughter!

Now places like Las Vegas, Phoenix and southern California have grown huge with emigres from the east and north. With the Colorado River running low and the western mountain snow caps shrinking, people in those locales will be scrambling for drinkable water.

Meanwhile, St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago still have plenty of the stuff.

Rather than addressing this problem, the Republicans scream that schoolteachers are “grooming” students to be gay or to question their gender.

So, yeah, while we on the left can buy into some occasional bullshit, those on the Right appear to living on a strict diet of it.



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