The Land of the Terrorized

One bright spring morning I was in traffic attempting a left turn at a light without a turn signal. The car in back got stuck waiting behind me. It’s perfectly legal to do what I was doing. I had my blinker on, this is how we do it in a civil society, utilize laws. The person in back of me didn’t care. They started honking, then screaming and then shouting profanities.

“Sorry nutcase, you’re going to have to go around,” I muttered to myself while gauging oncoming traffic.

More honking. The driver in back of me became enraged. When the light turned yellow, I saw oncoming traffic stop so I finally went to make that left turn and (because of or perhaps in spite of the screaming about my mother) I stalled my car.

This made the already infuriated person in back of me completely flip out. The slightly built business casual clad man swung open his car door – jumped out of his car with a mag-lite in hand and charged me. Panicked, I got my car started and I sped off – intact.

I could feel my pulse in my eyeballs as I looked in my rearview at the man still howling and shaking his baton-sized flashlight.

I took away two things from this incident: One) I should consider an automatic. And two) this was not about my left turn.

If this guy hadn’t been in back of me he would still be angry and prone to violence. He was already primed. My perfectly reasonable action was what he focused on at that moment and what he was attacking.

Now imagine he’d been listening to talk radio about how blonde women in crappy cars are what’s destroying America. Or maybe his pandering representative tells him all of his frustrations are all the fault of anyone in a seven-year-old red Ford Focus. Think if there were corporate interests dedicated to stopping people from making left turns all together. Instead of going through the normal legal routes of appealing to the department of transportation – or the city council, they just put it out there on Fox News that taking a left turn was going to kill your grandmother and euthanize Sarah Palin’s political prop/special needs baby.

No basis for this claim needed. Just saying. Just putting it out there. Totally not responsible if anyone does something about it. Just words. Free speech.

If that were the case, would the guy have waited until my car stalled to charge at me?

At first the YouTube videos of vehement mobs at home district town halls reminded me of the people who threw rocks at the “Little Rock Nine” high school students during integration in the 1950’s.

“I want my country back!”

There is always resistance to social change. But then I wondered, what social change? It occurred to me the people opposed to integration witnessed integration – they actually saw the people with dark skin being escorted by 101st Airborne Division. These health care reform near riots are the equivalent of having a fear of integration because they’ve heard rumors about how black high school students are in a secret African/Indonesian cabal and then showing up to throw rocks at the teachers way before Brown vs. The Board of Education could possibly be decided.

To be clear: these are not the acts of terrorists. These are acts out of terror. Acts of people being terrorized by an agenda. Do you blame the people trampling or those with a media platform continuously scream “fire”?

The anger at the government should be because they have let our citizens – us – we the people – die at the hands of corporations whose business is caring for health.

But because of some brilliant sleight-of-hand trick, there are (now) armed hordes irate at the idea of the President of the United States being an unpatriotic, socialist, Muslim, foreigner, Nazi.

Like what Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) told his constituents at a town hall last Friday according to the Tulsa World, “This is a scary time in Washington,” he said. “It’s a very frightening time. I see Barack Obama is creating an enemies list of people who oppose this miserable health care plan. I think that’s frightening. That’s from a guy that can’t even show a long-form birth certificate. I think we all ought to be prepared to fight that.”

It’s the car in front of them, blocking them, trying to turn left. The one their hyper-partisan media told them is “frightening.”

Sadly the more of these events I see unfold, the more they seem like the listeners to War of the Worlds by Orson Welles in 1938. It’s a complete work a fiction broadcast in just the right climate to scare the hell out of people.

If we didn’t have health care reform on the table these mobs would still be angry. The perfectly reasonable issue of health care reform is what they are focused on at this moment and what they are attacking. But they’ve been terrorized and the combination is what’s actually “frightening.”

This piece also appears in the Huffington Post.