Thursday, May 14, 2009

The United in Paranoia States of America

I was talking to a woman the other day and she mentioned that her daughter had a phobia about electric lines. The girl was afraid to be near them. She asked me if I had any unreasonable fears as a child.
"I was terrified we'd get hit by an atom bomb," I said.
I remembered the atomic bomb drills in school - everyone out of their seats, line up in the hallways, arms crossed over your head, facing the wall, while the siren wailed and teachers walked up and down the lines, pushing us closer to the wall if we were too far away. This was nothing like the fire drills. We were told that in case of an atom bomb falling, we were to close our eyes (not get blinded) and try to find a spot with no windows if we were indoors, and if outside, to seek a bomb shelter (most people were digging them in their back yards) or if none were available, find a ditch. The USA was united in its paranoia of atom bombs. I had nightmares for ages.
No small wonder the US was paranoid - after dropping two on Japan the US knew the damage they could cause, and like most paranoids, developed a strong feeling that 'everyone is out to get me'.
It's still going on. The US is convinced that everyone is out to get it, and it's now training boyscouts and girlscouts how to fight terrorists. Kids are being armed faster than child soldiers in Africa. These kids are all convinced someone is out to get them - Mexican wetbacks, Arab terrorists, or Someone. Anyone. And that's scary. Reality is being warped. At first in the US it was warped against black people, and blacks filled the prisons faster than you could say 'up agast the wall". Now it's terrorists and anyone with a slight accent or odd clothes is suspect. It's a wonder they even let planes land at all, and going through customs in the US is to begin to understand the sheer weight of their fear and paranoia. My great-aunt, in her 80s - was strip searched twice at the airport, and that was for a domestic flight.
Pretty soon no one will be safe - already so many people have guns and there are so many murders commited with guns (over 30,000 a year) that adding more (and making a whole new generation of kids paranoid about something) will just make things worse.
Welcome to the United Paranid States of America.


Ordinary Girl said...

I think you're over-exaggerating a little bit.

I work with people from all over the world at a company in Kansas. None of them are persecuted. I'm sure they run into people who stereotype them or misunderstand them, but never violently.

I don't expect I could travel abroad without someone snapping to an opinion about me because I'm American or misunderstanding my viewpoint.

Sam said...

I wish I were exaggerating - but what other country made its school children do atomic bomb drills? We always seem to be looking for enemies - in real life and in Holywood.

Wynn Bexton said...

I believe a certain Bush boy caused a lot of this. I know people who won't travel to US any more. But let's hope that Barack can change things.

We have to do earthquake drills at schools now because we live on the San Andreas fault. But nobody seems to be too paranoid about it. I remember when the air-raid sirens used to be tested and drills done as recently as the Bay of Pigs. To this day the sound of sirens like that send chills up my spine. Everyone had nuclear neurosis for awhile, not just the US. Here in Canada on the West Coast too.

Jennifer said...

I still have to disagree about the paranoia (though the atomic scares were probably world-wide, as you said). When I got to Europe I was amazed at how laid back people were (and this was during the height of the IRA and Basque separatist movement, when bombs were exploding almost weekly). The only other country I visited that made me think the US wasn't paranoid was Israel - where nearly everyone was walking around with a machine gun slung over their backs.