It is time for more people to call it out. Right now in the United States, what whimpers just beneath the surface in everyday sidewalk throngs and crowded bars and restaurants is, "Are they here yet?"
You know: Them. The Africans carrying the Ebola virus. The ISIS operatives ready to transmit beheading videos from American hotel rooms in which they have taken ordinary folks hostage. You know what I'm talking about. You know people are thinking it. You know the volume is building toward a wider shrieking sound.
Days before the stories broke about people presumed African reportedly being shunned in retail establishments and neighborhoods in Dallas amid that city's Ebola panic, I and I know many others, particularly people of color experienced in being profiled, were already muttering to ourselves that it would only be a matter of time before the African profiling started. I considered blogging about it in advance but, again no doubt like many, I didn't want to be among those planting the suggestion to folks who are already too suggestible. That was a silly reservation on my part: it's not as if anything I do on this little blog could alter the motion of American public impulses that are so deeply ingrained and so continually remanufactured. That machinery is built to last, baby.
The same goes for our view of the ISIS conflict. While we Americans worry about being snatched in an alley by an ISIS sleeper cell, the actual cataclysm has now embroiled Turkey as well as Syria and Iraq in real and bloody war and internal insurrection -- including, as I write, violent tumult in Turkey over whether to join the battle for Kobani, a city on the Syrian/Turkish border. If the ISIS juggernaut continues to gamble successfully on the cynicism and patience of Western corporate powers for whom continually decimated nations of color and a fearful American public are just part of the dirty job of managing global capital, then we can expect more howling and jostling here in the Homeland beneath the threatened encroachment of the Black Flag. And we can brace for a lunge into frothing hysteria if any local acts of ISIS-sympathist terror actually take place here.
Meanwhile, we quietly accept that more Americans will die by gunfire per capita than in any other industrialized country, that this month alone 50,000 of us will die of heart disease and another 50,000 of cancer, and that the corn- and cattle- and chemical-fueled enterprises that underpin our deadly diet continue to enjoy the subsidied, panic-free favors of the state.
Call it Brown Fever. Watch for it in your neighborhood.