Government and the need to feel safe

Life is supposed to be a dangerous adventure fraught with gigantic melancholy and mirth. The interplay between individuals and each other or the environment brings about, in theory, the chance to gain knowledge or goods through the exchange of ideas, currency, or other items despite the obvious peril of going out and interacting with others. The advent of the Internet and e-commerce still produces the chance of financial peril because one is putting their product or wealth at risk for some scammer to take without proper reimbursement. Free will brings about its own risk and the chance malevolent forces will attempt to cause harm to others.

Yet, we constantly see humanity flock towards the overriding desire of safety by relying on government as the answer to everything. It’s understandable. After all, who doesn’t yearn for comfort and the notion someone is looking out for them? Yet the result tends to be sacrificing freedom to the false god of feeling safe.

The rhetorical offsprings of the shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Philadelphia are chock full of calls for protecting others from harm through some sort of governmental action.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for the banning of websites like 8chan following El Paso. Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke went a step further by proposing a complete ban on white nationalist content and promoted amending federal law which exempts Internet Service Providers and social media companies from lawsuits based on their content.

The danger is quite obvious. The grandiose balderdash is more bandage than balm which will do nothing but push others towards the noxious stench of white nationalism. One has to wonder what might happen to the dim-witted college student who decides to use some sort of crass, ideologically backward meme on social media as a joke and whether their name will end up on some sort of list of unmentionables who deserve to be watched like a hawk. Or what might happen if the government definition of white nationalism changes from its current content to viewing any post raising legitimate ire towards affirmative action or charlatans who use race to advance their own money-grubbing agenda as white supremacy?

Would it not be better to confront the thick-headed student and attempt to convince them to change their ways? Should grifters not be exposed as frauds to be ignored instead of embraced? Isn’t it worth having much-needed conversations in hopes of changing the minds of those who start leaning towards the scourge of white supremacy? These rotten policy proposals of censorship would do nothing but attempt to make so-called normals feel better about sleeping at night.

The ‘government is needed to make us feel safe’ proposals are not limited to white nationalism, of course. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney used the shooting of six police officers in his city to crow, “Our officers deserve to be protected and don’t deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with unlimited amount of weapons and bullets. It’s disgusting.” Salon’s Amanda Marcotte went so far as to suggest conservatives are hypocritical for their support of police and guns by crying, “Conservatives’ utter lack of interest in stronger gun laws to protect police, despite all the “blue lives matter” talk, is certainly hypocritical. But it’s hardly surprising.” She then proceeded to re-enact Thelma and Louise’s drive off a cliff by suggesting, “Both the sanctimony about police and the attachment to guns are symbolic issues for conservatives. They have less to do with real concerns for public safety and more to do with the racist, nationalist resentment that also led to Donald Trump’s election.”

The facts are quite the opposite. Gun control laws had their origins in racism – not against whites, but against African-Americans. Robert J. Cottrol wrote in Gun Control and The Second Amendment, “Most laws restricting the possession of firearms were to be found in the slave states of the antebellum South. Generally, they prohibited the possession of firearms on the parts of slaves and free blacks.” The 1994 tome also features an essay by David C. Williams looking at an 1825 law in Florida allowing whites to go into the homes of non-slave blacks and confiscate weapons. Jane Coaston also wrote at in 2016 how California, run by then-Governor Ronald Reagan, passed its open carry ban two months after armed Black Panthers gathered on the steps of the State Capitol in a protest against the government.

Whites were wary of armed blacks so their ‘feel safe’ solution was disarmament. One would think those who intone the phrase, “Black Lives Matter” – and condemn the idea of trigger-happy police – would embrace whole-heartedly the idea of “Black Guns Matter.” Yet, they are full of hypocrisy by desiring disarmament and leaving all weapons in the hands of the police they protest. Their ache to ‘feel safe’ simply allows them to ignore the history of racism in gun control.

Now, what of those who want to protect their families or themselves through the banning of certain weapons? Their ‘feel safe’ complex is understandable – yet their solution is misguided. Humans are taught to practice situational awareness for a reason. One never knows when the need to escape a fire might rear its ugly head. Or the need to avoid an unsafe driver on the roads or sidewalks. Should the government ban electricity, candles, or automobiles because of their inherent danger or should humans remember the same situational awareness needed at home or on the roads is also needed elsewhere? We should all pay attention instead of burying our heads in the sand.

It is human to desire safety and security at home or elsewhere, as much as it is to expect life to be full of mountain-like highs and canyon-like lows. However, it is pure folly to yearn for government to serve as the arbiter. Government is full of humans with their own secret desires and passions, some of which can be detrimental and lead down the road to ruin. Politicians have never, ever (note sarcasm) in the history of mankind used the Polizei to seek out dissent under the guise of making us ‘feel safe.’ The United States has never, ever in its history jailed congressmen or others for publishing works which criticize the White House, sought to blame terrorist attacks on low-budget films, or used agencies to target private citizens looking to organize in hopes of redressing grievances with said government. They’ve never, ever rounded up people of a certain heritage and forcibly moved them elsewhere due to worry of war.

Humans need to use extreme caution before trusting a government which has failed before to make us ‘feel safe.’ Sacrificing freedom in hopes of security is no solution and should be avoided at all costs.