been meaning to watch it for a couple of years since I saw filmmaker
Michael Moore on Oprah.
I'd much rather watch Bowling for Columbine than watch Bush fumble his
way through reading a teleprompter while looking like a scared
chicken. Hell, I'd much rather bowl in Columbine or do anything else
than watch Bush.
I think Moore gets to the heart of the gun issue - it's not so much
that guns cause gun violence in the United States at a much greater
level than say, Canada. Canadian people possess guns, including
rifles, at about the same level as people in this country, although
the U.S. handgun ownership rate is significantly higher. Yet, the
Canadian murder rate is three times lower than in the U.S., where
there are 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 people annually, according
to government statistics.
It's more the fear that is ingrained in us since day one, fear that is
packaged and marketed through lucrative rightwing-leaning businesses
and political machines. There's the fear of people of a different
culture, fear of a nuclear bogeyman, which for me when I was young was
Russia and now it's bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and unnamed
"terrorists," fear that someone will break into your house and rob
movies, too. But the TV media doesn't play on the gun violence in
Canada as much as in the U.S., nor do the political leaders use fear
as much to win elections as they do south of the border.
We have gone from FDR saying, "There is nothing to fear but fear
itself," to Bush saying, "Fear everything because it helps me get
elected. Fear bin Laden, fear Saddam, fear Iran, fear Syria, fear
North Korea, fear Venezuela, fear Cuba, fear the media, fear poets,
fear writers, fear artists, fear scholars, fear intellectuals, fear
thinkers, fear philosophers, fear activists, fear Hollywood, fear
gays, fear Democrats, fear liberals, fear any idea or opinion or fact
that doesn't agree with my narrow, bigoted, selfish view of the world,
and especially fear this Jackson Thoreau minor league a**hole.
Republicans are the only ones who can protect you, even though we
haven't done a very good job so far. But facts have never stopped me
That about sums up Bush's State of the Disunion speech on Tuesday and
subsequent addresses he will give for the rest of his term.
to allow Bush to invade Iraq - but Bush takes it to another level.
Bush won his first election in 1994 for Texas governor by campaigning
on people's fear of youth crime, and he hasn't stopped campaigning on
Canada also doesn't have as many companies and advertisers playing on
people's fears to sell products, such as home security companies
playing on the fears of break-ins to sell security systems. It also
doesn't have as many hit TV shows with names like "Fear Factor." And
Canada doesn't spend near as much on missiles and other by-products of
fear as the U.S. does.
When I was young, I was taught to fear black people growing up in the
South. It wasn't so much anything that my parents or peers said, as
what they did; they didn't associate with black people so by their
actions they sent the message that we should fear African Americans. I
remember a few black kids being bussed to my elementary school and saw
some white parents angrily protesting that bussing. I especially
remember seeing the angry white protest mobs on TV.
I just thought more deeply about this when I was young and realized it
didn't make sense to buy into the fear. I was one of the few white
kids in my school to play with the black kids during recess. I was the
first in my family to bring a black friend into our home. I was the
first to date outside my race.
It's no surprise that I'm the only one who has voted for a Democrat
for president in modern-day times in my family and I'm still the
only one who associates regularly with black folks. A recent study by
psychologists from Harvard and the University of Virginia came to
another unsurprising conclusion: Bush supporters and Republicans are
more likely to be racist towards African Americans than more
progressive voters. Numerous studies done before that one drew similar
I also was the first in my family to realize it didn't make sense to
fear the Russians during the Cold War. That's why I joined a long
project in which participants walked across the U.S. and Europe to
Moscow in 1984-85 as a statement for the need to get beyond our Cold
War fears and stop the nuclear arms race. That stopped, but another
arms race based on fear of bin Laden, Saddam, and others developed so
the U.S.-led military/industrial complex could increase its gigantic
appetite. And fear as a big, greedy, lucrative industry could continue
The bottom line is the bottom line; fear and greed drive many U.S.
businesses and the far-right wing of the Republican Party, led by
Bush, Cheney and Rove. The neocons in the Bush administration are also
driven by lust for an American empire. The quicker we realize this,
the quicker we can do something to change it.
And we can change it - I remember being in Berlin by the Wall in the
mid-1980s and talking to people who thought it would never come down.
We changed some things on the surface then, but not enough down deep.
It's up to us to look within ourselves and figure out what we can do
to change this situation below the surface. One way to begin is the
next time Bush invokes the names of bin Laden and Saddam, which he
will do often in the next few years, refuse to give in to the fear he
wants you to feel.