“I was already publishing a blog,” Matt continued, “so I began writing a second one, dedicated just to this story. I posted that ‘as a society, we are running out of groups to marginalize’ piece. Demagogues always need a scapegoat to use to create fear and panic in the population, to get more votes for safety and security programs, get more money for bigger and more lethal weapons systems. I wrote that maybe a new class of people was being pinpointed, a new target to be demonized and marginalized—and if we needed to invent one, we would. That one, single blog entry generated a lot of responses, let me tell you.”
Matt could tell Bryan was still skeptical. “Tanner gave me a list of the people Claussen kept in his sights—all the people he considered misfits, or a drain on society.”
Matt took a final swallow and placed the empty mug on the bar. He nodded to the bartender for another. He could tell Bryan still wasn’t buying it. “Look, since prehistoric times, tribes have indoctrinated the young about the dangers of assimilation into other tribes. Elders told stories about how evil other tribes were, how it was ‘our tribe versus theirs.’
“At the turn of the nineteenth century, anarchists found bull’s-eyes painted on their backs and became the target of propagandists. They were demonized, used to create fear and panic. Newspapers declared that anarchists were out to destroy our very way of life. Soon people began to see anarchists lurking behind every tree. Then, when that fear faded, socialism and communism became the next great evils. They were quickly followed by the excesses of Nazism, and then by the many other fascist dictatorships since.”
Matt looked at the melancholy on his face in the mirror behind the bar. “I tried to keep what I was writing simple and to the point. People wrote to me saying they loved reading my blogs, and they began to believe in what I was saying. Some people, anyway.”
The bartender delivered another drink, but Matt didn’t pick up his mug immediately. He kept staring at his image in the mirror. He felt like he was talking to himself—that his friend was a silent, disbelieving audience refusing to acknowledge the truth.
“Add Catholic versus Protestant to the mix for religious seasoning. Wait, not to mention the demonizing of blacks—another excellent example of us-against-them. It all happens so quickly…”
Matt let his thoughts hover before continuing. “Soon after the events of September 2001, I wrote another blog post. Anyone who looked like they might be from the Middle East had instantly become an easy target. I tried to say we shouldn’t rush to judgment based on someone’s dress or beliefs. My in-box was bombarded with responses. Most of the people responding labeled me as the devil in disguise, and their responses were laced with vitriol. You should have read some of the crap that came in. People are always too ready to believe in a new Satan, and I was apparently one of the new Evil Ones.
“Today, a large number of people support the idea of erecting walls around the country, hoping they’ll somehow keep dangerous terrorists out. Nobody seems to know how many domestic terrorists we have, though.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish