Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Freedom Is More Powerful than Fear."

That is what President Obama said last night.

Of course, he also advocated denying people the right to own guns based on a sooper-seekrit government watch list, a list that has included toddlers, political activists and even a U. S. Senator. Which sounds a bit like giving in to fear, at least to me.

Still, the base premise of Obama's argument is wrong. Freedom may be more powerful than fear, but over the long run, and often, only over the very long run. For the history of humanity, both in this country and around the world, is clearly that over the short run, fear is far more powerful.

Woodrow Wilson's criminalization of dissent during the First World War. "Lynch law". The Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese-Americans. The Red Scares and the Black List. The judicial murder of Ethel Rosenberg. The War on Drugs. The "USA Patriot Act".

In Europe, the far right, running on a platform of fear, is making gains across the continent. Donald Trump's campaign is largely rooted in fear of, well, everything. Vladimir Putin's success is, in part, rooted in appeals to Russian xenophobia. The Chinese government plays the fear card like a well-tuned fiddle.

Fear sells, plain and simple. You can talk about freedom and liberty until you're blue in the face, but if the other guy connects with the voters on a fear-based platform, you're going to have a very hard time overcoming that.

And then, once freedom is restricted or liberty is curtailed based on fear, history shows that people have a devil of a time getting it back.

"Freedom is more powerful that fear" is only true if people are willing to stand up to fear, and take the tarring of being called "terrorist symps" or the like. Damn few have the stones for that. Remember, only one senator had the spine to vote against the Patriot Act: Russ Feingold.

That should be a warning to us all.


Marc said...

He doesn't have a fuck to give for getting elected, so he was doing a perfect trolling of the present slate of candidates (who are mostly running against him), and the republican party in general. He knew what their response would be to that proposal - and it points out how 'useful' the no fly list really is. Easy bait to make them say what they said, least they agree, and be seen as 'unelectable' by the base...

3383 said...

The No-Fly list? Really? where you won't be told whether you are on it, and therefore can't tell anyone they made a mistake.