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Is it time to start being afraid?

How do you make people dissatisfied with their lives and want a change? You make them afraid. I’ve been thinking about the role of fear in politics and in the Obama denialist debate for a while now, and I wanted to share some examples:

  • During the 2008 campaign, Obama opponents tried to characterize him in association with things people feared: radical extremists (Ayres), corruption (ACORN) and Muslims. They tried to raise fears that there would be massive tax increases.
  • In the health care debate, seniors were be told that someone would come to their home and they would have to decide how they wanted to die.
  • People have been told that if the Obama eligibility question were not resolved the country would fall into anarchy and the army would mutiny.
  • They were told that patriots would be rounded up and taken to FEMA concentration camps.
  • People were told that if they did not get the H1N1 flu vaccine that they would be forced to wear an yellow identification bracelet (echo of the yellow star required of Jews in Germany) and perhaps be shipped off in buses to FEMA concentration camps.
  • Guns will be taken away from gun owners, and perhaps the former gun owners would be shipped off to FEMA concentration camps.
  • The country’s financial system is being destroyed.
  • Our liberties are being taken away.
  • Obama is turning the United States into the former Soviet Union.
  • Immigration protester Barbara Coe said last September that Obama was taking a page from the Nazi playbook, only worse and that we should “be afraid, be very afraid”.

That’s a pretty silly list, but are there are other legitimate concerns that might make one take pause? I read this in a recent Washington Post article:

At a minimum, organizations who monitor extremist groups say that the fantasy of Obama’s ineligibility is now a central tenet. “The birther conspiracy itself is now totally widespread among military and paramilitary [militia] groups and new, what we would call quote-unquote ‘patriot’ groups, which are groups that are virulently anti-government,” says Heidi Beirich, director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Beirich says that a popular conspiracy theory among such groups is that the government is going to round up citizens and put them in camps operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

No, I don’t feel that it’s time to be afraid, but it is important to remain diligent, and to participate in the political process to insure that those who make it their business to create anxiety and fear don’t get elected.

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8 Responses to Is it time to start being afraid?

  1. avatar
    G October 9, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    Well, anytime there is a difficult economy or big changes in life, it is understandable that a number of people will get fearful, concerned or upset.

    It is also understandable for people to be cynical about the role and actions of our government and elected officials. There are many examples of corruption, incompetency, hypocrisy, gridlock, inaction, missed opportunities and general bad behavior that has been going on for decades…not to mention seemingly starker in our current hyper-partisan, 24/7 coverage world.

    But although situationally, that is all true, I don’t think that is a fair depiction of most of these crazy fear/smear claims that have been happening over the past year, some of which you’ve listed here.

    I mean, this stuff is beyond the pale of lunacy. I don’t give people who fall for it a “free pass” for being susceptible to it, because most of it is so beyond the pale and defies logic/reason or even just simple modest research to help determine what has basis in truth, what is realistic, what is an exaggeration with a kernel of truth, what is pure propaganda and what is just complete out and out lies, bunk or raving lunacy/paranoia.

    To buy into the stuff, such as what you’ve listed is beyond simple fear or gullibility, as many genuinely nervous or uninformed people might.

    No, to buy into that tripe seems to require at least two things –

    1) some sort of biased pre-disposition to WANT to distrust/hate and

    2) almost a sick fetish of actually desiring or fantasizing that such bad scenarios could/would happen.

    I guess it is sort of a similar mindset to those that seem to wish for (and worse those who actively want to bring about) an “Apocalypse” and “to hell with the ramifications or with anyone else”, because, somehow, in their mind they think they will get magically whisked away and “raptured”.

    I don’t know what is worse – the “true believers” in these outrageous conspiracies, which I think is at least half of these “conspiracy” people, or the other half of their movement – which consists of the manipulators and con artists – those who don’t really fully “believe” themselves, but who opportunistically use this paranoia to manipulate and/or fleece the “true believers”.

  2. avatar
    Heavy October 9, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Silly list? Doc, you need to get your head out of your savior’s ass and pay attention. Maybe a job would help. I hear Wal Mart is hiring.

  3. avatar
    wendy October 9, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    I would not call that a “silly” list.
    Frankly, I call it a psychotic list. Or, well planted.

  4. avatar
    SFJeff October 9, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Ah I love the warm Christian greetings Heavy posts. He manages to say nothing while throwing out insults in a way that would make Karl Rove proud.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    By the way, it was commenter Heavy that first put this idea in my mind some months back when he said that Liberals were afraid. I don’t feel particularly afraid, but what I read about conservatives suggested that they either were afraid, or at least people were trying to make them that way.

  6. avatar
    June bug October 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    From other comments I can see I’m not the only one who sees another “Hidden due to low comment rating” when I “click here to see”. This has happened in the comments section of several articles now. Not that I’m crazy about Heavy, but it’s nice to be able to understand the chain of comments.

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 12, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    I would suggest to everyone until this technical issue is resolved, don’t click the DISLIKE button, or at least not the 4th time that moves it to low status.

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 12, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    The “hidden due to low comment rating” bug has been fixed. I frankly am shocked that I was able to find and fix this, given that I never learned to program in PHP (the language the plugin is written in). I reported the bug to the author, who has independently fixed it. I’ll install the official version once it is released.

    Plug-ins like this are downloaded through a “one click install” and then a configuration form is filled out. There’s normally no programming involved on my part, and there couldn’t be since I don’t write PHP. The Comment Rating plug-in has gone through a number of revisions lately. The author is working hard, and fast, and is not testing as much as he should. I don’t have a way to uninstall an update and revert to an earlier version.

    I can turn off a plugin entirely, but when I do that, I can’t tell the plug-in author to come here and look at the problem.