Last month, after I had been reminded of one of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone, I decided to watch all of the episodes in order while I exercised at home in the morning. I have been making good progress and am more than halfway through the first season.
This morning, I had the opportunity to watch an episode called: The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.
The story begins relatively simply. The residents of Maple Street hear a mysterious noise and see a flash of light. As they gather to try to figure out the source of the noise and flash, they find that the power is out, cars won’t start and the phone system is not working.
Immediately, they start to speculate what could have caused these problems and, naturally, they link them to the noise they have heard. Then, one young boy, basing his theory on a story he had read in a comic book claims that not only was the noise and the flash an alien spacecraft but that the aliens had obviously planted an advance party in the neighborhood. He claims that someone on the street must be an alien and that they had to find out who it was.
What follows (spoiler alert) is predictable. Different people are identified as being aliens and baseless accusations are thrown back and forth. Eventually, the situation boils over as people are shot and killed and the neighborhood completely disintegrates into chaos.
As the story closes, we see two aliens on a hill overlooking the town. They talk about the best way to defeat human beings: take away some of their conveniences, plant a seed of doubt in their minds about their neighbors and watch the chaos that erupts and the destruction that follows.
This episode, shown for the first time in 1960, was most likely a reaction to the baseless accusations that typified the “red scare” of the 40s and 50s. But, as I watched it today, I was left with the stark realization that we are all potentially living on Maple Street.
We have heard the false accusations all too often over the past two years. We hear about the enemies across the border trying to infiltrate our nation: the rapists, murderers and gang members that make up the majority of those trying to enter our nation. We hear about the Muslims in our communities and our government who are trying to undermine our wholesome values. We hear about the members of the LGBTQ community who are determined to corrupt our young people. We hear about those who disagree with the administration as being unpatriotic.
And it goes on and on.
The language of division, fear, suspicion and hatred which our current administration and others use so freely is horrendous and offensive. The use of racist and xenophobic language intended to instill fear in our nation is a disgrace.
And it goes on and on.
While it does seem that it has had the desired effect among some as they turn against their neighbors across the street or across the border in an attempt to protect themselves, it seems that more and more Americans are seeing this language and this fear-mongering for what it is and are uniting to stand against those who tell us that the monsters are among us or around the corner.
The Monsters are Due on Maple Street was produced in 1960. One would have hoped we would have grown wiser since then. Hopefully, we have grown wiser and will make our voices heard more loudly and clearly as the days go along.