Contesting Dr. Bratt’s “Fear in US society”

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
March 27, 2013

Dr. Kwame NantambuOne of the most incredulous, simplistic and parochial articles this writer has ever read was “Fear Factor in US Society” written by David E, Bratt, MD and published in the Guardian dated 12 March, 2013 (p.A.23).

At the outset, it must be stated emphatically that the contents of the article revealed the writer’s ignorance of the political-societal complexity of American society.

In fact, what emerged from reading the article was a failed attempt by a transient, foreign visitor to analyze US society against the backdrop of a Euro-centric, myopic Trini mentality/mind-set.

Indeed, such a puerile attempt not only smacks of mixing apples and oranges but also as Sprangalang once opined as “mixing roti and egg.” This article has taken the ridiculous to the next level.

Dr. Bratt seems to be totally unaware of the truism that today the United States is “the light of the world”, while Trinidad and Tobago is the ultimate opposite. Before submitting his article, Dr. Bratt should have assiduously reviewed the findings in the 2013 World Economic Report’s “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report” wherein Trinidad and Tobago was designated as “the eight least tourist-friendly destination on the planet.”

To this writer’s knowledge, no foreign government has ever issued a negative travel advisory/warning against any state in the United States. On the other hand, such an advisory has now become normal, albeit expected, foreign governments’ policy toward Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, because of his lack of understanding of the diverse complexity of US society, Dr. Bratt inadvertently extrapolated (Afri-centric big word) his television news in Dallas, Texas to the rest of the fifty states in the United States.

Indeed, that kind of Euro-centric, dysfunctional extrapolation may work in the case of Trinidad and Tobago but it is just not applicable to the US society. It just does not compute by any scientific measure.

The fact of the matter is that Dr. Bratt is totally oblivious to the salient truism that on 15 December, 1791, “the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right to keep and bear arms.”

That’s the current heated constitutional debate in every state in the US society. That’s the acerbic constitutional debate between the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Obama administration in the US society today.

And this national debate was precipitated by the recent random school shootings which resulted in the death of both students and teachers. The right of Americans to bear arms at home and at school is the fundamental thorny issue in US society.

What Dr. Bratt totally misunderstood in his Trini extrapolation is that school shootings in the US society are localized; they are not state-universal, period.

Furthermore, school shootings are random criminal acts committed by psychologically-troubled youths. All youths in the US society are not psychologically-troubled.

Ergo, the putative fear of being shot and killed in school is a micro reaction, although Dr. Bratt has erroneously presented it as an ongoing macro fearful reaction in US society.

And for Dr. Bratt to conclude that the United States is “a society that highlights fear” only speaks volumes as to his overt, Third World carnival-like observation of the United States— a First World society.

Truth Be Told: On 4 March, 1933, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in a national address that as Americans “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And this statement was on the heels of the United States’ recovery from the global meltdown of the 1929-31 Great Depression and the fear of the rise of communism.

Fear— that was fear in the US society.

In the final analysis, what President Roosevelt was really alluding to was that as Americans “the only way we lose is if we beat ourselves.” That’s the unique American modus operandi, period.

Indeed, it is totally impossible for a foreigner, worst yet a transient visitor, to even attempt to internalize the “fear” of Americans especially in the aftermath of 911 in 2001. That was a most unforgettable catastrophic event that witnessed the untimely death of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans.

Fear— that is cause for real fear in US society. And no transient foreign visitor can ever relate to this “fear in US society.”

The bottom-line is that Dr. Bratt surreptitiously made a vile but miserably flawed attempt to equate the fear factor in small Trinidad and Tobago society to that of mighty United States of America— a classic no-brainer, period.

Shem Hotep (“I go in peace”)

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecture at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.