The Politics of Fear

By By [email protected]

By [email protected]

Eleven score and eight years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, concieved in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great ideological war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

I think I can see what our “activist” President Bush finds so “troubling” about legally recognizing gay couples: We’re quickly running out of people to be afraid of.

No singular force can get people to rally together more than the primal emotion of fear. Fear of thunder and lightning. Fear of fire. Fear of wild animals. Fear of God. Fear of Satan. Fear of invaders. Fear of empowered women. Fear of alcoholics. Fear of Africans, Japanese, Germans, Russians, Iraqis, Saudis, Palestinians, North Koreans…

Today, President Bush and the Conservative Religious Right are afraid of homosexuals. Nevermind that the reasons for such anxiety stem from the personal prejudice of a handful of men who are long dead; reason has no place in a mob mentality. All that is needed to propogate a culture of bigotry is fear, a target, and enough alarmists to constitute a majority.

As time passes societies usually overcome their fears. People need to depend on each other for protection less often. When these unified mobs dissolve their leaders become obsolete and uninfluential. What’s a leader to do when he sees that his grip on the reins of the masses is starting to slip? Simple: create more fear.

Find a group of people far enough away or few enough in numbers or otherwise unwilling/unable to fight back, then point them out and say, “There! These are the people you should be scared of! These people are the reason we must rally together! These people are directly threatening you! We must stop them from doing whatever it is they’re doing at all costs!”

In Orwell’s “1984” the identity of the enemy flip-flopped so often that the people were not only scared out of their wits, they were confused as well. They would rally together under Big Brother to fight whichever enemy the Ministry of Peace could dream up that weekend. The citizens had long forgotten the reasons for going to war, they just knew that they had to win at all costs.

Abraham Lincoln was killed because John Wilkes Booth was afraid of emancipation.Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated because of a fear of the advancement of colored people.Jesus Christ was killed by the Roman government because they were afraid that he would start an uprising.Japanese-Americans were held in the Manzanar internment camp during WWII because Americans were scared of them.Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics are killing because they’re scared of each other.Israelis are building a wall because they’re afraid of Palestinians.Nazi Germans built a wall because they were afraid of Jews.The US Patriot Act sailed through the legislature because everyone was afraid of terrorism.

“Fear leads to anger.Anger leads to hate.Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda

“We have nothing to fear but fear, itself.” -Franklin Roosevelt

What happens when people stop being afraid of each other? Will any of us live long enough to see that day…?

Tim ManwillFreshman, Computer Science