“…Twenty-five years ago this month, the Soviet Union, where unquestioning first graders dutifully ran in gas masks and censors scrambled to protect citizens from themselves, collapsed. Scholars are still debating the precise cause of death, but surely unsustainable communal anxiety played a role.
Today, I’m stunned to see signs of similar neuroses tainting the United States, the country to which my family fled. It’s not in the legitimate discussion over real national security threats, but in the relentless onslaught of helplessness being blared across the news and social media. I see it in groups calling for sanctions on vaguely defined pro-Russian media and peddling apps that block websites that allegedly benefit the Kremlin, like 21-century talismans to protect American minds from infection. I read it in columns that warn of Moscow’s unstoppable information war, the unraveling of democracy and the demise of truth. I see it in the constant assurance that we’re losing. Just as in the Soviet Union, it doesn’t matter how we’re losing or why, or to whom.
It is particularly jarring to witness this defeatism in America, a country whose optimism reaches across continents. My family came here with many stereotypical visions of America. Most turned out to be wrong, but the one about the United States being built on optimism was true. Perhaps it takes an outsider to notice, but when you’re in the land of solutions, reading column after column offering nothing but paranoia leaves a disturbing un-American vacuum.