American Savage: The Fear Factor


What terrifying times. It’s a frightfully disturbing time to be a semi-functioning adult. It’s hard not to be hopelessly scared, dreadfully certain of our doom. The only way to keep the Fear at bay is with a strong drink, or some form of dangerous self-medication.
Some of us worry about the environment. We fear the coming Armageddon, wrought by our own tragic ignorance. We fear the world will crumble and every moment of our high-tech, industrialized existence is merely serving to dig our own graves.
I feel the Fear right now, watching live-streaming footage from Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The great critique of the movement is their lack of message, the failure of a united voice. But that’s not what the occupiers represent. They are embracers of the Fear, and they are not typical.
It’s hard not to let the dread — the awful despair — grip you as you watch faceless riot police raid tent cities in the dead of night on both coasts, like some strange, coordinated attack of the status quo against the status no.
And when you read the facts, you can feel the Fear coming. The facts say New York City employs less than 1,500 full-time detectives to investigate financial crimes, but more than 5,000 officers have been involved in crowd control at Zuccotti. When the ragged protestors are dragged, kicking and screaming to jail, I feel the Fear.
When you hear New York City has made more than 50,000 arrests of non-violent marijuana smokers while failing to charge a single businesses criminal titan of grand theft and criminal negligence, the Fear will grip your heart and strangle the still-moving air from your lungs.
You can’t change the channel to shut out the Fear. You can’t seek refuge in sports, as men of my nature are prone to. If you do, the Angst will come. You’ll see self-involved professional athletes and gluttonous owners bickering over television contracts and likeness rights. You’ll see students at Penn State rioting and looting to protect a football coach that valued winning and reputation over the livelihood of children.
How can any normal citizen be expected to watch this without being paralyzed by fear? It’s a tragedy, and one we can’t fully understand yet. Fear, like booze or drugs, will drive us to do unreasonable things. It makes us eye Muslims with suspicion and carry our guns wherever we go to keep the faceless masses of our fear at bay.
The cops must feel the Fear, too. They feel it when they see how dreadfully outnumbered they are and they see the sheer size of the occupiers, and the magnitude of their resolve.
And here we are, a nation of stark-raving fear junkies stuck on stupid and itching for our next mainline injection of pure fear — just to get the blood pumping, just to feel present and effective in a world continually marginalizing the masses.
How scary will it get? How totally lost in fearful hysteria must we be before we see the light and reach the other side? How long can we remain naked and afraid of every bump in the night?
A judge ruled to keep the occupiers out of Zuccotti, possibly for good, and the Fear spikes again. Dangerous times we live in. The only response is unadulterated rebellion — reckless abandon of the law and a total assault on the American experience of lobotomized consumerism and groupthink.
Which is what the occupiers are doing, I suppose. In a time when being right means being powerful rich and in control, the occupiers are choosing to be wrong and embracing the fear associated with such a total disconnect from acceptable forms of expression. They don’t want anything in particular, but they know they don’t want this. They want to wake in the morning without the Fear.
Get your medication and prepare your favorite drink. Another wave of the Fear is coming like a slow fog that dims the fiery sunset, obscuring the hills and driving the electorate into frothing madness.

American Savage is a weekly column written by Journal opinion editor Collin Reischman











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