Wednesday, January 28, 2009


There are 115 auto deaths every day in the United States. Every 13 minutes, some person dies in an automobile accident. More than 650,000 people died last year in automobile accidents. Yet it is hardly mentioned in newspapers or on television, unless it concerns a celebrity, and yet Americans still shiver in their Fear of Terror!

Not that they shouldn't, because Islamic radicals are clearly a threat to our country. However, using the statistics, we clearly should fear automobiles just as much, if not more, than we do terrorism. We can protect ourselves from terror, with our Intelligence Agencies working together along with information from other countries and a close watch on our borders. But what can we do about people who whiz along highways at excessive speeds, weave in and out of traffic, and endanger their lives and the lives of others who are traveling alongside them?

These statistics do not include the number of people hospitalized and seriously injured in auto accidents. Thousands of people have sustained injuries that require care for a lifetime in one way or another. The truth is, we have an enemy in our midst, and that enemy is the car that we use to take us from one place to another. We cannot live without them, we feel, but we are risking our lives and our health by just pulling out on a street.

In the past eight years, we have been brought to a fever pitch by Fear of Terror. It behooved our leaders to repeat this phrase again and again, because it kept their intention of eternal war alive in the minds of their listeners. At one time, much of our country's Treasury was used to equip every hamlet, every small town village, every town, every city, with equipment to use in case of a terror attack.

Most of the towns had little knowledge of just how to spend this money. Some of them bought equipment that was more amusing than helpful. One town, located by a lake, bought underwater diving equipment. Another equipped the police force with Segways. Now, one cannot say that deepsea diving in a lake might not come in handy during a terror attack, nor can one say that Segways wouldn't prove helpful to take the police from one place to another. But, many town officials admitted they just didn't exactly know what to do with the money they were issued and spent it on projects far removed from terror.

In many ways, the Fear of Terror reminds me of what happened in World War II, when fear was also at a fever pitch. It was said that a Japanese submarine was sighted off the coast of California and people feared that Japanese spies within our country might signal this boat with vital information, even though few of us had any vital information.

It got so bad that, if you met an Oriental in a grocery store, you were paralyzed with fear. You eyed him with suspicion until he had left the premises, then discussed how suspicious he looked with your fellow shoppers. It all culminated in the Japanese being place in Internment Camps, uprooted from their homes and taken to various locations where they were guarded closely. Never mind that many of their children were serving in the U.S. military. Never mind that many of them had lived in this country as good citizens for many years. They were imprisoned because of Fear and Fear is a powerful weapon. It can turn peace into war as fast as the blink of an eyelid.

I hear remnants of this fear in many places. I hear people who are enraged that Obama talked with the Muslims. In their mind, it seems that all Muslims are radical, that no Muslim mother or father wants peace and prosperity, that Muslims are born with a killer instinct and foremost in their minds is killing Americans.

Some of these people are well-versed in the Jewish-Arab wars and confrontations and have horrifying memories of these battles. They have dodged bullets and have seen the horrors of war. Because of these experiences, they consider Muslims as the enemy. Their anger and fear is a result of their experiences and they can only see the word "Muslim" as synonymous with terror.

I am no Middle Eastern expert, but I do know that terrorists, for the most part, come from a society that is dismally poor. They resent Americans in the Arab lands and, in some cases, have reason to do so. Unfortunately, we have a history of backing the monsters that become dictators in the Middle East, like the Shah of Iran and, at one time, even Saddam Hussein. We have used these monsters when needed, then dropped them like hot potatoes when the need was over. The rise of Osama bin Laden came about after the Americans abandoned Afghanistan following the war with the Russians. Had we stayed there, one could imagine the Taliban never rising to power, and Osama bin Laden living without his band of brothers, Al Queda. We promised Afghanistan help that we did not give, partly because the hope of an oil pipeline from a former Russian province rich with oil which was to snake its way through Afghanistan did not come to fruition, even though contracts had already been signed.

Who knows? Whatever the reasons, I believe that Obama is right in talking with Muslims. To me, it is a brilliant strategy. Obama is sophisticated, world-traveled, multi-national. Some of his family are Muslim. He has lived for a while in Indonesia and saw the pits of poverty there. He has developed a vast knowledge of various cultures in the world, yet he is an American Christian, loyal to our people. What a great find he is! The Muslims listened carefully to what he said. They are used to George W. Bush rattling sabers, mouthing threats, and stubbornly clinging to his "mistake" in Iraq. To have an American President treat them like the human beings they are might just influence them to help put an end to the radical element.

Just as the last election put an end to the radical element in this country, the Jesus Camps, the torture of prisoners, the endless, secretive, imperial orders, we will solve the problem of terrorism far more quickly if we try to understand the mindset of the people they walk among. In our Bible, we are commanded...and the word is love our neighbor. This is the most important Commandment and is as important as, and equal to, love of God. This from the lips of Jesus, and one of the most difficult commands to obey.

Speaking to our supposed enemies, using diplomacy to pave the way to our goals, acting like human beings instead of animals is the smart way to go. One doesn't have to turn into a barbarian to fight barbarians, and one should never consider any person a barbarian simply because of a difference in religion and culture, because they are as important to God as you or me.

As for fear, we all have a lot of them tucked away into the recesses of our mind. As Americans right now, we have a lot of fearful issues, the economic collapse of our country, the lack of jobs, the homelessness, the desperation. We must be alert to terror strikes; we must be watchful for homeland lunatics, skinheads, maniacs who walk into restaurants or schoolrooms with guns, as well as the worry about paying the rent and affording food. We just have to put our fears in perspective and, with a great faith in the future of America, try to treat them rationally.