Fear and Loathing in America

I was reflecting on the theme of fear and these literary, film, and musical examples popped into my mind almost simultaneously.

1. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “South Pacific,” includes this song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

2. George Orwell, 1984, envisions a society in perpetual war–sometimes with Eurasia, and sometimes with Eastasia. But there is one constant enemy: Goldstein. He becomes the focal point of all pent up hostilities and frustrations in the ritualistic “Two Minute Hate.” He is the scapegoat for all that is wrong.

3. The 1956 film, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” tells of alien pod people that take over the bodies of ordinary people. At the end, an hysterical man warns, “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”

Now, I’ll tell you what brought these images to my mind. It was a column in yesterday’s Washington Times reflecting fear and loathing of all things Islamic.