August 22, 2006

Fear Thy Neighbor

By living in, and becoming acclimated to a State of Fear, fear has become the imperative. To be without fear is to misunderstand the world, if you were to take the current president's view.

In the past, to fear thy neighbor manifested itself in familiar ways: racism, homophobia, disdain for the poor. But what is new now is the overt allowance for the actions from that fear - often resulting in shameful scenes at airports (embarrassing in that they are usually simply panic with severely unjust results).

So to the question posed by the BBC journalist Sean Coughlan, (as part of their discussion of the English tourist flight from Spain on which some passengers demanded that their own suspicion of their fellow travelers must be addressed by the airline) "Is this an understandable response or paranoia and prejudice?"

The answer is YES, because both side of this false dichotomy are true, and the freak-out may be forgivable, but it is also unacceptable. Turning on your neighbors in this sort of vigilante style cannot become common.

PS - One can re-brand racism as profiling (without the 'racial' prefix), but there will always be less reprehensible ways to provide sercurity.

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