In Norway last week a hate-motivated madman murdered 77 innocent people, most of them fair-skinned, light-haired Norwegians and many of them just teenagers, because he wanted to call attention to his belief that Muslims are taking over Europe.
Then at Fort Hood this week Pfc. Naser Abdo, a soldier AWOL from Fort Campbell, was caught just before realizing his dream of reenacting the 2009 Fort Hood shootings. Abdo wanted to set off bombs in a restaurant frequented by soldiers and also to open fire on the post because he said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan violate his Muslim beliefs.
On one side of the issue a crazy Christian killed innocent people out of hatred for Muslims. On the other, a crazy Muslim wanted to kill soldiers because of his own misguided beliefs.
That abhorrent church in Kansas preaches that God is blowing up soldiers willy-nilly because they say he hates fags. Meanwhile, radical gay activists have taken to disrupting services in churches that preach against homosexuality.
And then in Washington our elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, circle each other like a disfunctional married couple, wanting the rest of us to get involved in their drama and unaware that we’ve grown weary of their same old fight-dance. Now the disfunctional couple is calling us in the middle of the night again, crying again, wanting us to get worked up by the he said-she saids, but it’s not happening. We, the masses of people sitting squarely in the middle, are far more apt to roll our eyes and decide instead that we just need better friends.
The news world is no more noble, in fact maybe it’s to blame. The fringe freaks can turn on their TV sets, search the internet or even pick up traditional print news sources and find, with absolute ease, someone supposedly trustworthy who will affirm whatever ridiculous beliefs they already have. They can find at the flick of finger, someone who will stoke whatever intolerance they’ve already lit, justify whatever hate they want to nurse, encourage the same fury a rational voice would try to quell. Meanwhile truly moderate, just-the-facts, news sources are laying off good journalists because good journalism is boring when compared to rabble rousing. Pretty soon there will be no news at all, only opinion masquerading as fact.
And the hate will grow taller, dark bookends of disgust on either side, casting long shadows over everything in the middle. And the middle will keep getting squeezed, compacted, made smaller by the frayed fringes.
That’s the most infuriating part of it all. We, the rational people, far outnumber the lunatics. We could easily over power them. We could quickly quiet their crazy voices. But that’s not our nature. Moderates don’t rise up. Our knees don’t jerk. It’s our slow to anger-ness that makes us moderate, and it’s the same admirable quality that makes us fall prey, again and again, to the fringes who kill us, attempt to scare us, and hijack our beliefs and priorities to make their own illogical points.