It is July 3, 2017, I’m inPhoenix, and the vultures are circling.
Three days ago, our first morning in the states, we ventured forth to ride the Phoenix Metro Light Rail from our airbnb to my Parents home. About half way through the journey an SUV careened into the tram, before spinning out, taking down an 8 inch thick lamp pole, and crashing headlong into a wall.
We were essentially trapped on the stranded streetcar for maybe fifteen minutes, while police and emergency services (about a dozen vehicles) swarmed and secured the scene. Eventually they opened the doors and collected passenger information before sending us on our way.
I have to tell you of our adventurous ride now because from all I can see via my google goggles it has not been reported, even within metro Phoenix. It was certainly a life changing event for the women driving the SUV, and possibly for the tram driver. The Police and the passengers found it at most an inconvenience and more likely a forgettable experience. No matter, it was surely not was not newsworthy Q.E.D.
By contrast, this morning, July 3, a taxi careened into about a dozen taxi drivers at a taxi waiting area near Boston airport. This news spread across the globe within minutes (go ahead google it) while the accident was unfolding. We heard it on my fathers car-radio while heading to shop. The reporters noted that they had no information, just the initial report, and then they immediately started talking about terrorism and Isis sometimes using the words in a feigned caveat: “we don’t know if this is terror related or if Isis is involved.”
My father went so far (within a minute of hearing the pundits) as to say he was sure it was terrorism because: airport, Boston, taxi-driver, (you know they’re all…) July 4 weekend; that’s how they do (not an exact quote).
Henry and I, living through all the “war on terror” in Hong Kong are not used to the zeitgeist of fear and readiness to accept, even propagate the newspeak at the drop of a hat. It is disquieting to see my home, Henry’s new home, formerly so free and brave, cowering in self-generated terror at the smallest of shadows on the wall.
Where is the America of legend? Have we really sold our heroic liberty and stoic defiance to the news media, so easily? Are we really such ready puppets to show, quick to swallow hook, line, and sinker our role in the culture of fear?
Like on the tram only days before, by the end of our fifteen minute journey it was clear this was nothing more than an accident. It was an unfortunate event in the lives of a dozen taxi drivers, and nothing more.
If I were to pray for my country I would pray that we could find the courage to again ignore all “news” that is so under ripe that the media has no information. That we would only become interested in the story once facts were present and clearly showed that what was reported was actually important for us as individuals to know. One thing President Trump has stated correctly is that the news media lies. They are hell-bent on trying to play us with trickery and innuendo, so that we tune in tune up and never drop off. Perhaps we should think about reminding them of their place in our lives while reminding ourselves of our dignity. To borrow from Flobots: There is a war going on for your mind, if you are thinking, you are winning.