Fear is turning us into monsters

Published 1:55 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

I’m sure many of you don’t remember Kitty Genovese. She lived in an apartment in Queens, New York. One night in 1964, she was on her way home and was attacked by a man wielding a knife. She screamed and screamed.

Many of her neighbors heard her screams but did nothing about it. Some thought it was simply two people arguing. A lot of people assumed someone else would handle it.

In fact, the indifference of bystanders became known as the Genovese effect. She died in a spreading pool of her own blood that night in the arms of a 70-year-old woman who finally ventured outside to see what had happened. The police did receive two calls, but that was all.

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Recently someone on Facebook posted an argument for banning refugees that I’ve seen a few times. They likened it to locking the door at night so robbers won’t come in. But what if someone came screaming for help, pounding on the door and asking for help or protection from an aggressor?

Would you ignore it like Kitty Genovese’s neighbors?

Have we as a nation become such cowards that we would turn Anne Frank away from the door? Because that’s what we did when she and her family asked for help. We denied their visas.  And that’s why she died.  Because we did nothing.

It’s times like this when I realize the gravity of what Franklin Delano Roosevelt meant when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear, itself.”

Fear turns us into the same monsters we are trying to avoid.

Both the Orlando and San Bernardino shootings were committed by Americans, born and raised. Yes, the wife of the San Bernadino shooter was from Pakistan, but was a lawful, permanent resident.  I understand it’s a lot easier to get a Visa for a fiancee than merely a visitor.  By the way, our present vetting process takes, on average, from 18 to 24 months.  And it’s been quite successful, thus far.  The only country that has sent terrorists here was Saudi Arabia in 2001. And they’re not included on the banned list.

Freedom to worship as we please is one of the basic tenets of the Constitution.  There should be no religious test to come here. I, personally, know Muslims who are productive, peaceful citizens of our country.

It’s time to grow a pair, America. We brag about being the greatest country in the world. The land of the free; the home of the brave.

We brag about being a Christian nation. We are none of those if we are no longer willing to champion people in peril. It’s what this country was founded on.

Elodie Pritchartt

Natchez resident