Nothing to fear but… a Halloween costume

It took her until I was halfway through my sandwich to get up the nerve to ask, “Is there really a Communist Party of Davis County?”

I made her nervous. I don’t blame her. She was taught to be afraid. Fear, and the hatred it generates, serve a purpose-but it isn’t always rational. Especially in a Bountiful sandwich shop.

All three of my friends at the table with me had dyed hair, painted faces and black clothes. One was wearing a ridiculous wig attached to a top hat. It was Halloween, after all.

All the same, my Communist Youth costume looked realistic, as did the propaganda pamphlet I’d made to complete the outfit and given her.

And it was only early afternoon. Most costumes come out after dark-on children (we had already realized noon was too early for four 18-year olds to dress up when we got dirty looks at Target-that’s why we’d gone to lunch).

All things considered, this woman was still asking me if there really was a Communist Party of Davis County. The only thing that prevented me from thinking of her as an idiot was her age.

Baby boomers knew different things about Communism than I did from my history books.

I was prepared for dirty looks after my mother had asked me repeatedly not to wear it. She’d even grabbed a sheet and offered to make me a ghost.

“It’s just not funny,” she said.

It wasn’t supposed to be! It was supposed to be scary; it was Halloween.

Her lingering fear of Communists 10 years after the fall of the Soviet Union was funny. The gray-haired woman in the sandwich shop wanting to make sure it was only a costume was funny.

But I can laugh because I’ve never practiced crawling under my desk in case of a nuclear attack.

My mind went back to that afternoon five years ago after reading the numerous and totally unanticipated responses to Jeff Fullmer’s column defending Karl Marx (Oct. 13).

I figured enough fear was dead for Marx to be discussed rationally. I was obviously wrong.

How long does it take for fear to die? How long for the hate it generates?

Hate and fear can be quite useful in uniting a people toward a common cause. We’re seeing this now in the War on Terror.

But how can it be stopped after it’s no longer useful?

Looking to the future, where will the fear of terrorists lead? Will my children fear Muslims the way my mother feared Communists?

People from the Middle East and other Muslims who want peace and prosperity as much as any American deserve our love, not fear. We must not let the fear of terrorists translate to the hatred of a people. We must stay rational.

There may come a time when the threat of terrorists is sufficiently over long enough for a student to dare defend their ideology in a column or a teenager to dress up as one for Halloween.

If that day ever comes, let us hope to be free enough of fear to handle the threat rationally.

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