350 million is more than a third of a billion. There are more than a third of a BILLION people in the United States, representing by far the greatest variety of beliefs, backgrounds, and lifestyles in the history of the world. It’s impossible to fully conceive of what that number represents in the real world.
I point this out because the fear-mongering media outlets we might like–whichever they may be (they’re all basically the same business model)–love to magnify small exceptions so we can all have a loathsome Other to hate. No matter how insignificant, some marginal extremist presence that’s different from the audience any given outlet caters to will magically be made to seem like a looming threat to everything that audience holds dear.
But it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Because this amazing society is far larger than we can even comprehend, much less identify, quantify, and target.
Take that universal enemy, Westboro Baptist Church. Whenever they get up to their shenanigans somewhere, it’s a great opportunity for people of nearly all walks of life to bemoan the oppression this inhuman boogeyman represents, and to score some easy social capital by publicly proclaiming their intent to fight this evil army.
Except the total number of people in this group is only about somewhere between 40 and 70. That’s it.
To put that in perspective, this imminent threat to our sacred way of life consists of less than 0.0000002% of Americans.
The same could be said of any number of gross abominations against whatever flavor of the sociopolitical spectrum you prefer. They’re just tiny blips on the radar, footnotes that history won’t even bother to include at the bottom of any page.
The lesson, as always, is thus: