This morning, I watched Joe Scarborough neatly dissect the causes for the Sandy Hook tragedy. Our gun culture and mental illness were mentioned, along with a finger pointed directly at Hollywood and the manufacturers of violent video games. But perhaps it's time that Joe turned that finger back on himself and on much of the overheated rhetoric that he and his party puts out there regarding the future of our country. Maybe Joe needs to re-examine his part in our "fear culture."
For anyone who watches Fox News, or listens to conservative media, anyone who reads FreeRepublic or RedState, you know the drill. Be afraid. Be afraid of everything and everyone. Be afraid of our Muslim Socialist Kenyan president. Of illegal aliens. The U.N. Of economic collapse and FEMA camps. The government is out to get you and you have to protect yourself. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Fear is a prominent part of any speech by the NRA. They use it as a marketing tool. It's no surprise that gun sales spiked after the elections in 2008 and 2012. People were afraid. But we have to ask ourselves if those fears are rational and based in fact, or if they are being driven by a need much more mercenary -- corporate greed. Like the gun culture, the fear culture in this country rakes in big profits. Without fear, gun manufacturers wouldn't be enjoying their most profitable years ever. Without fear, Fox News wouldn't top the ratings.
Was Nancy Lanza afraid? Did her fears drive her to arm herself? According to her aunt, she was preparing for the coming economic collapse. Was that why she bought at least four semi-automatic weapons? Why she taught herself and her sons how to use them? Why she bought enough ammunition to kill a hundred people?
I don't know what was running through Nancy Lanza's mind. But I do know that there are thousands of Americans who are gathering guns and ammo, certain that their fears are all about to come true, paranoid, irrational people who are driven by ultra-conservative rhetoric. Are some of these people mentally ill? I have no doubt. We kid about Obama Derangement Syndrome, but I have seen friends and family members who have turned their minds over to Fox News.
So as we discuss violent video games and Hollywood movies, maybe it's time to add another subject to that list. Fear-based right-wing political rhetoric. Joe Scarborough, maybe it's time to re-examine your part in the "fear" culture. If we want to reduce the need for guns in the country, we need to reduce the fear in this country. And the only way to do that is to point a finger at Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media that created this current culture and hold them accountable, too.