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Fear First 

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Remember the publicity surrounding Promise Keepers during the late 1990s? This group of allegedly reformed evangelical Christian men gathered in sports arenas across middle America, pledging to spend less time in front of their TVs drinking beer and more time with their children, and God willing, to stop cheating on their wives.

Many American liberals reacted with outrage: “These men want to spend more time with their children and love their wives? How dare they!” I remember one friend saying, “Promise Keepers must be stopped at all costs.” Liberals hold almost anything religious suspect, especially when said religion promotes limiting the rights of others deemed immoral. Fair enough, really. But the fact that some people want to get at least one part of the equation right shouldn’t be held against them. Acknowledging good intentions would go a long way toward healing the national divide.

If you thought Promise Keepers were bad news, they’re a small threat next to “Security Moms,” religious or not. I confess learning about this phenomenon rather late in the game. I also confess finding little redeeming about this group of angry, fearful women. So what if they are, like so many women worldwide, mothers.

Never mind that Security Moms voted for Bush. It’s their reasoning that counts, and that reasoning stinks. These women live in fear that their children will be killed or harmed by terrorists. Because they live in fear, they voted for tough-talking President Bush. And they want America’s borders laced up so tight few will be able to get in.

Take for example, Anne Morse, a married woman and mother of two in Unity, Md. “If John Ashcroft announced tomorrow that construction had begun on a gigantic security fence topped with razor wire and cameras—one that encircled the entire United States twice—Security Moms would be delighted,” she wrote in an opinion piece this year for the Website Independent Women’s Forum. Titled “Mothers Against Tolerating Terror,” Morse’s March 4 article detailed her rage over a U.S. government Green Card Lottery, her support for the Iraq war (which has claimed more than 1,000 mother’s sons and untold numbers of Iraqi children), her anger at the French and the emergence of “my own killer instinct.”

“Security Moms don’t much care if we never locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we’re horrified when we read about flights being cancelled, as they were over Christmas, because of concerns about terror attacks,” she writes.

Life in the First World is tough, isn’t it? On public radio, a Security Mom voiced concern that a terrorist attack similar to the Beslan school tragedy could take place here unless we cordon ourselves off from the outside world. Selfishness feeds on fear, which is stoked by ignorance. It takes animosity dating back to the 1830s, plus the deportation of thousands of Chechens to Kazakstan by Joseph Stalin, before an event as deplorable as Beslan becomes possible. Where were Security Moms when Saddam Hussein was killing Iranian children by the thousands and shaking hands with then Middle East envoy Donald Rumsfeld?

American mothers of the past used to care about education, but Security Moms don’t seem to mind the fact that 85 percent of high school graduates can’t locate Iraq, Israel or Afghanistan, much less Chechnya, on a map. But who needs to know the history or causes of fear? For Security Moms, all that counts is being paralyzed by it.

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