Al-Qaeda is failing; Iran and North Korea are still threats, but not as imminently so, yet Americans are addicted to fear. So we’re turning inwards, dangerously so. We should take a lesson from Africa.
Sunday al-Qaeda militants crashed the Kenyan border at Liboi in the middle of the night, trashed the Ali-arif and Abdi-adoon hotels, and left a bomb that didn’t go off before retreating to Somalia. Not a single mention of it in the Kenyan press.
Was this an oversight? Was it poor judgment by the news editors in East Africa who instead were talking about the ash cloud over Iceland and the new constitution in Kenya? Or the horrible trash collections in Dar? Or the ongoing corruption in Tanzanian road building? Or more failures searching for oil?
No, because all of those issues were more important than the border crashing Al-Qaeda thugs in Liboi. Their bomb didn’t work! They posed no more of a threat to Kenya or the world than some errant middle schooler in Hamburg who can get his internet fingers on the design of a nuclear weapon.
But can you imagine how the growing group of American righties might think of this?
We thrive on paranoia. I just came back from six weeks in Africa to a culture of unbelievable accusations by the American fringe. Only one was new, but the old charges that Obama is taking away our liberties (and guns), that the new health care legislation will kill us, that bank regulation is bank bailout I had managed to forget. Once away from America, they seem impossible to believe.
But there they were, again. Palins, Bachmans, crazies crowding the media. Unbelievable. We trade in reasoning so that we can stay on edge: be afraid.
Here’s a great contrast between Africa and America, and the best example I can find for Americans to scale it down and learn from Africans.
Kenyans’ take on the Icelandic volcano is shown in the cartoon, above. A decrepit Osama bin-Laden trying to resurrect himself by taking credit for the volcanic eruption.
Fringe Americans’ take on the Icelandic volcano:
Which is more realistic? Which contributes better to our handling of terror, much less our handling of ourselves and our truly imminent responsibilities.
Woe, America. Watch out. Have you ever heard of the kite spider?