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.