We call this ‘projection,’ where I come from.
After the attacks in Paris, the world is again challenged by fear.
I suppose that I should be used to this, after a decade and a half of listening to well-meaning fools uttering it, but; I’m not. Or at least I’m not willing to let it remain unanswered, out of sheer weariness if nothing else. If I’m weary of anything, it’s being told that I’m scared, just because some editorial writer on the NYT is scared and so he* thinks everybody is scared, too.
Here is the truth of the matter, and I’ve written it out before: there are two ways to react to a Madrid or a 9/11 or a Mali or a Boston Marathon or a London or a Bataclan Theater terrorist attack. You can get scared, sure. Many people did, and still do. Not all of them are horrible people, although I’d trust very, very few of them with anything that I thought was really important. But while fear is an understandable and automatic reaction to a dangerous situation, staying afraid is a conscious choice.
And it’s one that has unfortunate repercussions. To start off with, it leads rather easily to hate** – which is what the fearful are usually nervous about happening in others, largely because they know that they’re on the verge of sliding down that particular slope and smack dab onto the jagged rocks below. Which means, again, that the fearful assume that everybody else must be the same way, too. It’s natural enough, I suppose. Insulting, but natural enough.
So if the alternative to fear is not hate – if hate is merely a subset of fear – then what is the true alternative? Why, it’s anger. I didn’t get scared about the enemy after 9/11; I got mad at them. How dare those people come halfway across the world to strike at a city that I loved and murder my fellow citizens and try to kill people just like me. How dare they insert their literally medieval fantasy ideology into my daily life. The terrorists had no justification, and they had no right. And they made a hideous mistake back then, because while an angry man might make mistakes, those mistakes pale in comparison with the mistakes that a fearful man will make***.
So while I may feel legitimately sorry that the editorial board of the New York Times is apparently lost to fear, I would appreciate it if they didn’t libel me by suggesting that I share that particular weakness. I don’t. I have tons of actual weaknesses to answer for that I don’t need to take on ones that other people want to saddle me with, just so they can feel better about their own inadequacies.
*It’s usually a he, in these cases.
**There’s one particular site out there that’s owned by a guy who ostensibly went to the Right after 9/11, only to switch back to the Left later. The reality, of course, is that the fellow never really changed: the Muslims scared him, and the guy figured that surely that evil man George W Bush would parking lot the Middle East in response. He never really forgave Bush for not being a genocidal mass murderer, which is admittedly an awful thing to say about another human being. …Sorry?
***See, 2009-2015, Foreign Policy Decisions of the United States of America