In the song “Working Class Hero,” John Lennon decried the mechanism the powers that be use to manipulate people: “When you can’t really function, you’re so full of fear.” Lennon warned that when someone is afraid, they’ll make poor decisions or act in a manner inconsistent with their true values. Unfortunately, our politics understand this and thrive on creating fears. Anyone steeped in history can cite numerous examples, although one needn’t go as far back as atrocities spawned by fearing Salem witches, slave uprisings or the “Red Menace.”
The drawback to frightening people is that while it works in the short term, it creates actions people later regret. Now we have fearmongering being played with the border wall. For example, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro identified the large cache of fentanyl captured at the border (at a port of entry) as an imminent threat. She said, “If you inhale that stuff, it can take out a state. I mean, just the mere presence of it. You don’t have to be a drug user. ... The presence of this stuff can kill off millions of people.”
Years from now, as we “tear down this wall,” we may have to justify how we came to build such a costly, inefficient and inhospitable edifice. Will we sheepishly admit they made us afraid with the specter of caravans hiding rapists, murderers and disease-carrying immigrants? Will we regret not doing our moral duty, helping those in need, even the least among us?
David H. Burke