America is too unsure of itself to have a black President. This decade proved it.
You’ll have to forgive me. I get a little protective of this concept called fear. I wrote a dark comedy about the strain of fear during the first decade of the millennium and my mind might have warped in the process.
The term “fear” gets used a lot these days and it is positive that we are talking. This type of energy needs to be discussed, not ignored.
At the same time, whenever I see the word “fear” used to describe the 2010s’ strains of racism, fascism, sexism, and homophobia, I need to raise my hand and say, “Nope. Nopenopenope—Not the same thing. Nope. Wrong decade.”
While writing my first book and then its sequel, I researched the events of the 2000s to find commonalities. (It’s a great feeling when you’re looking for your story to make sense and the facts back up your reasoning.)
After Y2K didn’t destroy us like we thought it would, a range of new threats popped up to stress us out. 9/11, the prospect of mass layoffs, increasingly-common environmental disasters—that decade slapped our 90s-era blissful ignorance upside its head. Plus, we weren’t aware that the 1% viewed these disasters and tragedies as chances to profiteer and that their greed helped to worsen the situation.
During the aftermath of the decade’s initial shocks, we Americans began our complicated relationship with the brand of fear that the years created. We panicked as we looked around at the new millennium and became uncertain about what the future held. As the 2000s progressed, we began to doubt much of what we had been taught.
Our mighty military machine could not contain the guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq. Due to the 1%’s desire to squeeze every possible penny out of the “war” on terrorism, the rest of the world began to doubt America’s place as the world leader. On the home front, the country stagnated and even those super-awesome for-profit colleges couldn’t provide solutions.
Then the Great Recession happened in late 2007.
Stress levels skyrocketed as millions realized that they would be losing their jobs. And again: we didn’t know that the 1% were looking to score big off of the masses’ misery, so the recessionary picture kept mutating and growing more confusing. (The finance-fellers’ behavior inspired this Fearkiller (Volume 1) vignette.) The banks got bailed out and hoarded the taxpayers’ money instead of hiring and giving out loans like they promised. Fearful types shouted their indignation in response.
Oh…almost forgot: we also elected a black guy as our President and White America snapped. Then it snapped more. Then it snapped some more. Some of the mental unraveling continues to shock me.
The main difference between the 2000s and the 2010s? White America’s current insecurities didn’t exist back in the 2000s. Fear believes in itself. Insecurity doesn’t. Fearful people rally around causes like Occupy Wall Street. Insecure folks look away and instead joke about the problems, smirking, muttering under their breaths, “I’m probably going to Hell for laughing at that joke…”
The energy that guides today’s worst Americans cannot be mistaken with fear. Fear doesn’t feel sorry for itself. Insecurity loves feeling sorry for itself. Fear would never rationalize this modern white supremacy with nonsense like, “Well…it seems like everybody is going Nazi, so I might as well be a Nazi…” Insecurity merely shrugged its shoulders and gave in to Nazism.
Financially-stressed people who believe in trickle-down economics seem to be figuring out how to make themselves okay with authoritarian fascism these days. I’m thinking that it won’t take much convincing for many of them.
Fear remains focused on trying to figure out what is going on. Insecurity quits looking around and accepts its “new normal” by developing what it refers to as a “cynical” outlook. But the fact is, true cynics—the people insecure folks pretend to be—tend to be smart, curious souls. They look around at the world with big wide eyes and notice elements that don’t add up. These entities that don’t make sense spark their cynicism.
Insecure people are not cynical; they are afraid, but too afraid to think of themselves as afraid. Insecure types do not engage their brains and instead rely on being judgmental towards entities that they do not want to understand. Insecure people try to discredit people who raise their voice. Insecurity wants everyone to suffer in silence like it does.
For more about how insecure folks operate, learn about these four forms of psychological manipulation: gaslighting, sealioning, concern trolling, tone policing.
Not too long ago, I wrote this blog post about these four insidious forms of abuse.
Though I do understand the reasoning behind why some people listen to their worst selves: why would your garden-variety hipster who worries about their public image want to be seen as nervous and scared? These days, this would be perceived as weak. People get judged for showing their vulnerabilities. Pretend cynics concern-troll instead of sharing their concern.
The difference between real cynics and people who call themselves “cynics” is that true cynics are not afraid to show their hesitations and scared feelings. True cynics develop questions because they dig into problems and look around. People these days look away. They look away and tell themselves that they would be disappointed, so it’s better to not even try.
One of my most important group of memories from this decade will be witnessing my fellow Americans’ response to Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. being elected as the 44th President of the United States of America. The racism and threats to white privilege began in 2009 when he got inaugurated. But the new decade only brought further hate and the anti-Obama crowd only grew more shocking.
Their fear began to die. Spite and resentment replaced it and these emotional energies took hold in passive-aggressive, billionaire-fetishizing minds.
And here we are now. Two days before the new decade.
Fuck you, Donald.
I wrote about this subject in an earlier post, I miss fear. Resentment sucks.. Check it out.
Kirkus Review for Fearkiller (Volume 1):
“A dark comedy about the psychological damage inflicted on American workers during the difficult economic and political climate in the new millennium.”
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