Humans are fearful animals. We wouldn’t’ still be here if we weren’t. Apes that wander aimlessly into the mouths of large African cats are not going to be around for long.
Fear is a force for good and bad in the world, and it can be informed or unjustified. The fear of Jews, infidels, capitalists, communists, minorities and odd things in general — these fears are the cause of much of the cruelty and chaos in the world.
What are we afraid of? Strange and exotic things, it seems.
Take our fascination with sharks. There have been many, many shark movies, including the “Jaws” saga, “Deep Blue Sea” and a number of campy original “SyFy” films.
But according to National Geographic’s website, you have a one in 3.7 million chance of having a lethal encounter with a shark. So why are people so afraid? Basically, sharks are really terrifying. Who can watch “Jaws” without feeling a chill when the sailor Quint likens sharks’ eyes to dolls’ eyes?
Americans were petrified when they heard there was a horrible African disease called “Ebola” that made people’s body parts fall off. Never mind the fact that only two Americans ever died from the disease (see CNN: “Doctor’s death marks second U.S. Ebola fatality). It was scary because it was different and unusual.
The fear of the exotic is a large part of our cultural psyche. Drunk drivers might cause tragedy on a regular basis (The CDC reports that in 2014 impaired drivers caused 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths, or 9,967 deaths), but there is nothing remarkable about somebody drinking and driving.
For us, it is simply a part of life; we don’t fear the alcoholic or the partier when we drive down the interstate. So why do so many of us fear the Mexican rapist and the Arab terrorist, even though we are virtually safe from them?
Why do we fear foreign and exotic things but accept the inevitability of alcohol- and gun-related death?
According to the Pew Research Center, first-generation immigrants commit less crimes than natives and second-plus generation immigrants. When a native man commits a horrible crime, he’s a bad apple, but when somebody crosses the border without permission and then does something awful, it feels like we’re being … violated.
Ben Shapiro, on the right-wing website Breitbart.com, tells of several high profile illegal-immigrant criminals in the piece “IS TRUMP RIGHT?” One such man, a Mexican native who had been deported from the U.S. five times, eventually went on to murder 32-year-old Katie Steinle. The undocumented fella was trying to take advantage of sanctuary city policies.
One can understand Shapiro’s anger at such a thing, but we must keep things in perspective. When John Smith the Drunkard kills a young lady in his car, we don’t see conservatives saying that alcohol must be outlawed. But a deranged Islamist shoots up a club in Orlando, and now we are expected to think its reasonable to ban Muslims from coming here.
For the record, I do believe we should secure our border and screen refugees. But there is a point when skepticism of multi-culturism becomes simple paranoia.
We will be attacked by Islamic terrorists in the near future, and an illegal immigrant will commit murder or rape — these things are statistical inevitabilities.
But according to the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, from 2001 to 2015, 784,000 Syrian refugees came to the states and exactly three of them were arrested for planning terrorist activities. Syrians and Mexicans are just sharks waddling around, scaring the living daylights out of us.