In 2012 the American people elected a fundamentalist preacher from the excessively conservative American South to the Office of the Presidency.
There was not an election in 2016.
The American people, a majority of whom had been seduced by radicalism from within Christianity, allowed Nehemiah Scudder, from a small cult-like church in the South, to overthrow democracy and ascend to the station of the First Prophet.
The century that followed was, perhaps, the long death of America as we knew it. Not at the hands of overt tyranny such as that of Stalin or Hitler, but at the foot of fundamentalism and radicalism – something that, more and more, I am seeing Americans embrace.
This is, of course, fiction; taken from the short story “If this goes on–” by Robert Heinlein. But what if, like Heinlein’s other works, there was a kernel of foresight in the prose? Heinlein, responsible for the invention of the waterbed (Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961), the World as Myth concept (the Number of the Beast, 1980) and the word Grok (Stranger, 61), was prolific in his understanding of the human animal and in its ability to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of radicalism all over the world. In America, we see this most reflected in the Muslim world and through the lens of terrorism and global violence (but let’s be honest, it’s fear that Fox News and the right all-but invented).
From a much more global perspective, something I learned partly in the classroom of a very opinionated but brilliant professor, radicalism is present and growing in every field.
In America, radical Christians have attacked medical clinics that perform abortions; act as sounding boards for the worst their faith has to offer. In Iraq, radical Muslims calling themselves an Islamic State have taken over large amounts of land, executed many people and filled a power vacuum left after the beginning of the “War on Terror.” In Israel, radical conservative Jews in the government insist that the country is for Jews and Israelis alone and seem to be closed to a peaceful resolution with their Palestinian neighbors.
It’s everywhere – this idea that sounding and acting, or being, certifiably insane to push a political agenda works. And they might be right.
ISIL is about as strong as any authoritarian military state ever has been (although not if the Saudis have their say). Israel is about as far from peace as she can get without actually being in a classic, formalized war. America is seriously considering letting a racist, fear mongering, fool succeed one of our finest and most accomplished Presidents since FDR.
Radicalism seems to work so far; and it’s horrifying. To quote Owen Harper of the BBC’s Torchwood, “Are you scared enough yet? Because fuck knows I am!”
But fear can’t stop me from trying my hardest to get it into the skulls of anyone who’ll listen: the world doesn’t have to be this way!
Treat your countrymen better regardless of their race or faith; do not fear the foreigner because of what you might not yet understand about him. If you’re a person of the three aforementioned, major faiths, then you know that all three demand the best of behavior from the faithful; and that behavior starts with loving other people unconditionally, not treating them like subhumans because they’re a little different.
Myself? My family is Jewish, I’m an atheist, my best friend and his wife are two of the finest examples of good Christians I know, my Muslim neighbors are great (and their command of spices in cooking is amazing) and the world doesn’t seem like a hostile place so long as I keep myself surrounded by a vast variety of people and culture.
What is xenophobia? The dictionary says it’s an unfounded fear of the unknown. And what is fear? It’s an emotional lack of understanding of a given subject. How do you defeat fear? Learning. To learn is to not know fear, for fear is only of the unknown.
I understand, therefore I do not fear. I do not fear terrorism, radicalism or the fools of the world because I know them. I know that in the long run, their anti-humanitarian viewpoint cannot win out. We might face decades of depression, fear and loss; subjugation and separation, but I know we can never fully surrender to fear.
Until next time,