:: Article

We Have Nothing to Fear

By Theo Gangi.

There was a practical reason for the second amendment. We were a citizens militia without a standing army, without a warrior class. Now it makes purchasing an automatic handgun with a hair-trigger and a 16 round clip as easy as ordering a sandwich.

The only purpose for such a weapon is to kill a mass of people as quickly as possible. These weapons are designed for the military and police, not duck hunting. Yet we sell them to children if they have a drivers license. Our most powerful political party defends this policy. And they’re adults. Virgina lawmakers should be charged with 33 counts of reckless endangerment.

And who profits? The same weapons manufacturers who are rolling in money since we invaded Iraq. Haliburton’s stock price has tripled since 2003. Their CEO made 100 million dollars last year. Are our politicians in the pocket of the defense industry? No. Our politicians are the defense industry. A person going from the state department, to being CEO of a defense contractor, and back into the vice presidency, defines the legal principle of a ‘conflict of interest’. The same man who wages war cannot be the same man who profits from one.

The majority of this country has been bulldozed by a powerful few for too long. They believe they are bigger than the constitution, bigger than the people, and bigger than the Geneva conventions, which call a war of aggression a war crime. Let me paraphrase the late Don Imus– our current leaders are war criminals.

It’s hard to imagine that a president of the United States once declared to the country at war that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The statement has become a cliché that, like all clichés, has lost its meaning with repetition. But consider the deep truth behind those words. Contrast that with the current use of fear to manipulate the wills of the American people, to scare us into the worst kind of international racial profiling– invading a country whose population looks like those who attacked us.

I am thankful that the Virginia killer was not from the Middle East. We saw on that campus why fear is so dangerous. Fear enables one man with two guns to kill 32 people. Fear enabled ten Nazi guards to control a hundred death camp prisoners. It was this profound understanding of fear that lead one of the Virginia Tech victims, Professor Liviu Librescu, himself a Holocaust survivor, to sacrifice himself to save the lives of his students. He was shot barricading the door while his students jumped out the window to safety. This is a man whose face should be shown on the news with the same voracity as his glorified gunman. Maybe then we could begin to understand that even in the face of death we do not have to be afraid.

President Eisenhower tried to warn us about the danger of the military industrial complex. We have an industry whose lifeline is utterly dependent on war, and in order for us to go to war we must fear. As long as there is no federal regulation of this blatant conflict of interest, we will always have enemies, we will always be instructed by our leaders to be afraid. Yet the decision remains with us. Fear cannot control us if we do not let it.

“(We) must teach (ourselves) that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching (ourselves) that, forget it forever.”
-William Faulkner 


Theo Gangi‘s debut novel, Bang Bang will be published by Kensington Books in November 2007. He is a regular contributor to Crucial Minutiae, and his fiction has been published in The Greensboro Review, The Columbia Spectator, and The Kratz Sampler. He grew up in New York City and is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s MFA writing program.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007.