Scala Metus: From nukes to wolves

They told us to be afraid, be very afraid, of nukes.

Or, more correctly, to be afraid of our communist enemies who had nukes. Our nukes were good, of course. Their nukes were a terror.

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When I was small, our pastors and teachers kept us Christian kids in line with fear of the commies, who were always threatening to launch nuclear missiles at us. Or, they were going to invade us and rip up our Bibles and make it illegal to pray. And we had to pray to Jesus really hard, or God was going to let it happen. And we had to make everyone else pray real hard too, or else the godless Russkies were going to make us cut up our American flags.

In the 4th grade, I was once subjected to a “drill” to illustrate just that. Our teacher told us what was going to happen: Men in military uniforms would come into our classroom, arrest her and bring in another teacher who would tell us to spit on the flag and throw our Bibles out the window. If we refused, we would be arrested and sent to a re-education camp where we would be taught to hate Jesus and our mommies and daddies. Because, as you know, the commies don’t love their families as we do.

When the Soviet Union fell, that fear faded. So, we had to be afraid of something else.

The preachers in our conservative mega-pulpits then tried to make us afraid of Bill and Hillary. They were “ungodly.” They were part of some super-secret Satanic ring trying to take over the world. Hillary was going to force all men to become women. She and Bill were going to “ban the family” and force us all to give our children to the state. And horrors, they were going to make us all get health care!

They had to be stopped. Everyone having access to health care was an insult to Jesus.

But that fear didn’t last long, even though it turned out to be a lucrative cottage industry for radio talk show hosts. It only appealed to the more insane and gullible of us. So, a new monster was needed.

We got it on 9/11.

At the time I foolishly thought the terrorist attacks would finally teach us the insanity of religious fundamentalism. Boy was I wrong. We just got more religiously fundamentalist in response. There were more than a few Christian preachers who taught that God allowed the attack to punish America because we didn’t believe as hard as the terrorists believed.

After a few years, the terrorist threat got smaller but more vicious. Now, we’re afraid of “lone wolf” attacks — some poor, isolated soul infected with a mind-virus of hate and fanaticism. And that makes it easier to find new people to fill the role of our fear avatars: Black people, brown people, anyone who wasn’t a Christian, feminists, liberals…

We are always to be afraid. We’ve been made afraid of anyone different. We’ve been made afraid of education, of being smart. We’ve been made afraid of anyone who won’t toe the line and bow down to authority. We’ve been made afraid of people with the insane notion that food, safety, and health care are fundamental human rights.

Fear, fear, fear. It was why religion was invented in the first place – as a salve for our fears of the dark shadows in the night. But now our religion is becoming fear itself. We’re addicted to it. We can’t live without it. It’s our drug.

And we always need a bigger dose, or else we won’t do what we’re told.

Viktoria Marinova

The free press under assault: Investigative journalist raped and beaten to death

Viktoria Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017. Her death was particularly gruesome.

Authorities say Marinova was raped and beaten to death. Her semi-nude body was found in a park in the Danube town of Ruse on Saturday. She had been beaten so badly that she was unrecognizable.

“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” Asen Yordanov, owner of news website Bivol.bg, told AFP.

Anyone who’s had the misfortune of speaking to me for more than five minutes, or whenever I’ve been moved to speak in a SAG-AFTRA L.A. board meeting, knows that one of my passions is the necessity and protection of a free press in the United States — and the safety of journalists and reporters.

Locally, I’m concerned with reporters being sent to fire lines to report on wildfires without being given adequate protection, i.e. breathing masks, etc.

And there is the greater concern of our current president breathing fire and brimstone against the press, even as threats of violence against American reporters ratchet up in response.

But around the world, the threat to reporters is so great it defies the imagination of people in America.

Contrary to what Trump has been saying at rallies, there is no “open borders bill.”

Image: President Trump Holds Make America Great Again Rally In Pennsylvania

The President of the United States said this recently at a rally:

“Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders – and it’s a bill. And it’s called The Open Borders Bill. What’s going on? And it’s written by – guess who – Dianne Feinstein.”

Here’s the problem: There is no such bill. Everything about that accusation is completely made up.

This is a lie so blatant that no excuse can be found in the realm of “maybe he’s just confused or mistaken.” It is so totally untrue that he must know he’s lying, and he’s lying on purpose.

The art of political campaigning used to be the art of spin, and the art of spin was to make your charge true enough that you could score a valid point. But now we’re in the era of make anything up, do it out of whole cloth, it doesn’t have to have any relationship at all with reality.

As Steve Benen writes:

When the lines between fact and fiction blur for the president, it’s unsettling.

But more broadly, Trump has also apparently convinced himself, not only that an imaginary bill is real, but also that he’s accurately describing the Democratic position on immigration policy.

To put it mildly, he isn’t.

I realize that the president isn’t a fan of nuance or substantive policy debates. He enjoys the convenience of binary framing: to agree with the far-right agenda on immigration is to be “tough”; to oppose it is to support “open borders.”

But no one of any influence in Democratic politics endorses Trump’s bizarre description of the party’s agenda. On the contrary, the Obama administration strengthened border security measures well beyond what we saw under his Republican predecessor.

Sexual assault happens to men, too. But there’s a difference between how it’s received if you’re a woman. I know.

I, too, am the victim of sexual assault.

I have shared this privately with very few people, but never publicly.

Because of shame. And in many ways, shame is the follow-up assault. It’s the lifelong coup-de-grace that re-assaults you over and over again at the start of each new day.

It happened to me when I was a little boy. I only knew him as “Uncle Tim,” a friend of the family.

I vividly remember the minute details, where I was, the fact that it was cold, what he did, what he said… but I couldn’t tell you the year or “Tim’s” last name. My best guess is that it had to be in the very early 70’s because that was the time period I lived in that house. That’s the only way I know.

So I completely understand when someone can remember some details but not others after the passage of time. It is not a mystery.

My guess is, “Tim” victimized other children, some in the house with me at the time.

It’s not a “recovered memory.” I never forgot about it and then suddenly remembered it later. I didn’t invent it or make it up. I’m not confused about who did it. I haven’t conflated him with someone else.

I did tell my mother a few years after it happened, and she wept that she had put me in such a position as to allow such a person into the home, but it wasn’t her fault, just like it wasn’t my fault. She wasn’t in a good place, either, and I learned many years later there was abuse she had endured that I never knew about.

Over the years the people I confided in never upbraided me for it, never accused me of “asking for it,” or said it was my fault because I was wearing something inappropriate.

But if I were a woman that’s the reaction I’d probably get. I’m sure my mom got that reaction. I bet she got that reaction from people who were supposed to love her.

What a horrorshow this planet can sometimes be.

I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have the anger and doubt thrown at you on top of all the shame, the questioning that you didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe, deep down inside, it was your fault.

But it’s not. If it happened to you, it’s not your fault. No matter how many years it takes you to find the strength to tell someone about it.

An anonymous op-ed from the flight deck

Hi there. I’m an anonymous senior flight official who works for the airline.

Your pilot is deliberately trying to crash this plane. He’s a little crazy and unhinged. In the early days, there were whispers of having him committed and never letting him get on a plane, but we didn’t want to cause a fuss with corporate.

But don’t worry. There are several of us here who, while we believe in the principles the pilot has espoused, are nevertheless doing everything we can to curb the pilot’s more murderous intentions.

We’ll keep working to keep all of you passengers safe while the pilot continues trying to crash the plane. We’ll keep doing this until he stops being the pilot… one way or the other.

So just relax. You’re in our hands. Go about your business and don’t mind the sudden changes in altitude.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin obviously hated America!

Some people, including Marco Rubio and commentators on Fox News, are very upset that the new movie “First Man” about Neil Armstrong doesn’t explicitly show the exact moment the American flag was planted in the lunar soil. As if a film about Americans landing on the Moon doesn’t celebrate America.

They may be shocked to learn that when Neil and Buzz Aldrin took off from the surface, the lunar module’s ascent engine blast knocked the flag over… AND THEY DIDN’T IMMEDIATELY RETURN TO FIX IT!!!

Separating families at the border… in a different context.

Let’s try this with a bit of a different context.

A Jewish family in Germany in the 1930s flees their home country to get away from Nazi thugs and the growing violence against them. They’ve heard horror stories of Jews being taken away and put in work camps. Their shops and homes are being vandalized and jackbooted paramilitary men are beating them in the streets.

They scrape together what they can and board a ship to America because Germany will undoubtedly attack England, so England is too close. They know if they stay they will die, even though their family has lived there for generations.

When they get to America, the authorities take the children away, and when the parents ask for asylum to escape the violence in Germany, the authorities lock them up in a detention center, saying it will be months or even years before their case is heard.

They don’t know where their children are. Their young children don’t know where they are.

Finally, a government official announces that the only way they’ll see their kids again is if they give up their claim to asylum and agree to be sent back immediately to Germany, where they face certain death.

Explain to me how this would not be a brutal thing for a country to do.
It will take a long time to wash this stain, and even if we do, it won’t ever completely go away. It’s a stain on the soul. The best we can do is re-think who we want to be: decent human beings, or brutal thugs.

It’s our choice.

If we choose brutality, they are not the “animals.” We are.

(And let’s not forget we did turn away Jews trying to seek asylum in America, and so did a few other countries. They wound up going back. And they died.)