“Fear was a big part of it”


I’m watching the PBS American Experience episode “Ruby Ridge”. Sara Weaver, the daughter of Randy Weaver, is describing how her parents were preparing to move from their Iowa farm to living on a mountain in Idaho. She says they were adhering to the Biblical passages of “an apocalyptic future” and says

“Fear was a big part of it.”

As the episode draws to a close, she adds

“When you operate out of misinformation and fear, things can go wrong.”

These are words worth remembering – not just in the tragic and volatile 1992 “Ruby Ridge” case, but in our society in general today, and in the language that we hear from those who are responsible for guiding us forward as a nation.

Fear is a big part of it.

Listen to what we are being told:

  • Fear those who cross our country’s border from Mexico – they are rapists and murderers and drug lords.
  • Fear those who run from brutality and death in Syria – they are terrorists who hate our freedom.
  • Fear those who report on our government’s actions – they are enemies of the American people.
  • Fear those who teach – they are telling our children what to do, what to say, what to think.
  • Fear those who wear a hoodie on a chilly night – they are armed and looking for a house to rob.
  • Fear those who wear a jihab – they are hiding something, maybe a bomb.
  • Fear those who march in protest – they are paid professional agitators trying to destroy our democracy.
  • Fear those who own large, successful businesses – they are mistreating their workers and hiring illegal immigrants.
  • Fear those who run for office under the (name one) Party – they are only out for (their supporters, their class, their race) and will take away your (rights, guns, money).
  • Fear those who demand your attention – they want to heckle you, mock you, shout at you, shout you down

Sara Weaver is someone who was thrust, unwillingly, into the public eye, under terrible and tragic circumstances. Yet, because of those circumstances, she knows so much more than our leaders do:

“When you operate out of misinformation and fear, things can go wrong.”

Photo: ©AP Photo/Michael Sohn