Fear is a natural response to the unknown. It creates anxiety. It creates that knot in our stomachs and gives us our fight or flight response. And fear has long been used as the ultimate way to manipulate large groups of people into action, causing mobs, wars, and oppression.
The manipulation directs our fear towards a target, say illegal immigrants, or adherents to certain religions, and rather than trying to get your understanding of that target, points out all of the differences to you and attaches crimes to anyone having those differences. It makes that group of people into the bogeyman.
We all know what to do about a bogeyman, right? First, you behave like good little children do. Get in step with everyone else. Otherwise the bogeyman will "get" you. The bogeyman is always "out to get you." Then, when we get a little braver, you chase after the bogeyman and drive him away. Then you set up security so the bogeyman will always be kept at bay. And you never, ever go outside of your secure place.
Our president and his allies in Congress spend a significant amount of time creating bogeymen for us worry about. According to them we have murderous gangs pouring in through our open borders to menace our most vulnerable communities or there are millions of "illegals" sneaking across borders to steal US jobs. We are barraged with claims of terrorists making their way into peace loving countries like the US as refugees and wreaking havoc in the name of Islam. Or that North Korea is going to attack us imminently.
These are overt threats to make us want to have stricter closed borders and a stronger military. There is some substance to the claims, otherwise it would never be believable, but the claims, phrased in this manner, are also a distraction preventing us from actually dealing with the issues involved.
If we take the time to examine each bogeyman, we find that, in reality, unauthorized immigrants, aside from being in the country unauthorized, are law abiding people who work, pay taxes, may own homes, arrived here legally and overstayed their visas, don't get the benefits of social economic programs, are positively contributing to their communities, are doing jobs that many in the US simply won't do, and can't vote in our elections. In fact, of the population of unauthorized immigrants, only a little over 7% are ever convicted of a crime, and only 2.7% convicted of a felony. In comparison, of the total population of the US, according to a study provided by the University of Georgia, 8% have been convicted of a felony.
The claim of immigrants, authorized or unauthorized, stealing jobs away from US citizens has been made for over 100 years now, and has been levied against the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Middle East, Africa, Cuba, Mexico, and all of South America at one time and another. The reality has always proved that the maligned immigrants make their own jobs, or do the jobs that people in the US steadfastly refuse, and our economy actually grows and becomes more prosperous as a result. Our nation grows and becomes more secure by welcoming them into an atmosphere of opportunity, and our culture is enriched. Always.
We can look at refugees in a similar way. While the FBI may indeed be actively investigating terrorist activity with regards to refugees that come into the country, very few of those investigations prove any terrorist plot. The percentage of refugees being investigated as compared to all other other terror investigations probably only accounts for about 3-4% of the FBI investigations. Again, most of those investigations do not prove that a terrorist threat existed. And looking specifically at Islam, much like Christianity, the percentage of those around the world who support or participate in extremism is rather low. It is higher in a few regions, but overall Islam, like Christianity, does not support extremist groups.
North Korea is a threat. There is no doubt about it. However, the liklihood of North Korea striking out is largely dependent on how our President is dealing with them. Our President seems to enjoy antagonizing a leader of a country who is more than willing to use nuclear weapons on a whim. We should be questioning who is the greater threat at that point.
And then there are the more insidious kinds of bogeymen we are directed towards. We are told of the great inefficiencies and corruption of our own agencies, like the EPA or the Department of Education, and how the regulations of these agencies are harming our economy. We are now told that the FBI, who we trust to carry out the investigations that protect our populace, are a disgrace because they are now "being used politically."
Our agencies have served faithfully to afford us a clean environment in which to live, provide education for the public, create opportunity for our businesses to thrive while at the same time protecting the rights of workers and families.
Our FBI is apparently just fine so long as it is investigating the Clintons and not any Republican lawmaker or executive? Who, exactly, is politicizing the FBI?
The point is that what I have described are 6 different bogeymen to distract us, make us fearful, angry, and get us to fight amongst ourselves or support policy that limits us. Every week we are given more to think about or argue. And while we are thus distracted, we are not coming up with sustainable solutions to the very real issues that affect us. This the politics of fear and division, which we must get past in order to progress and actually prosper.
The real way to deal with a bogeyman is to acknowledge the truth of it. The shadows are always scary until you reveal that there is nothing in them. This is not to say that there are no monsters in the world or that there are no threats. There are. We must study the actual facts surrounding them in order to combat them and be able to live with less fear and more hope. We must have people in our government who are not going to give in to fear themselves or encourage the fear in others, or worse, are the real monsters that threaten our nation.
In his State of the Union, the President said "the state of the Union is strong because our people are strong." He then played on our fears in this world and created divisions based upon those fears, belying his statement about our Union. He gave us bogeymen to be distracted by in the form of unauthorized immigrants, terrorists, our own regulatory agencies, and enemy states.
This past week House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes made our FBI a bogeyman.
If we truly examine these claims, I am sure that we will reveal the truth of what is threatening our nation, and being no longer distracted, can sustainably solve these issues.