Last Thursday, I wrote:
And so, in the interest of "fair and balanced" reporting, we get to listen to bed-wetting cries that homosexuals are more dangerous than terrorists, feminists are the the cause of hurricanes, and liberal bloggers working for liberal candidates are scions of anarchy. In other words: hate and fear your fellow Americans.FDR, one of America's greatest liberals in history, famously said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." The radical right preaches, "There's nothing to fear but not being afraid enough."Thus the hysterics we see on Fox News and other voiceboxes of wingnuttia. Be afraid. Boogie boogie boogie! Boogie boogie boogie!
Also picking up on this sentiment (I won't assume "echoing" as I doubt he has read this blog, at least lately), Austin Cline at [correction - mg] Jesus' General wrote on Sunday:
This week I'd like to write about the same topic I was going to address last week — it was more timely last week, perhaps, but it never goes out of style: the conservative, Republican use of fear as a political weapon against internal enemies, dissenters, and political opponents. On January 31st, Amanda Marcotte wrote about how conservative pundit Mike Gallagher actually admitted that terrorism would be a good thing for Republican political ambitions:
Seeing Jane Fonda Saturday was enough to make me wish the unthinkable: it will take another terror attack on American soil in order to render these left-leaning crazies irrelevant again. Remember how quiet they were after 9/11? No one dared take them seriously. It was the United States against the terrorist world, just like it should be.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — but I think he might have been wrong. I think that we should also perhaps fear, or at least be very wary of, those in our society who would use our fears for their own political agendas. Mike Gallagher's comments are not an isolated instance of political insanity — similar thoughts have been expressed to varying degrees by a number of conservatives and Republicans over the past few years. There are many who look fondly on the 9/11 attacks because they provided an excuse to push through domestic and international policies they had long advocated, but could not successfully impose on others because there wasn't enough fear in American society to help.
[Hat tip to Crooks & Liars]The despicable behavior of the right lies not just in the fear-mongering, but in working so hard to stir up fear of Americans. Americans vs. Americans. Basic human decency is attacked. Fair-mindedness is denounced. Compassion is torn asunder. And the libertarian roots of Republicanism are denied.
The use of political fear to enact new policies against foreign enemies and to silence domestic political opponents, is easy to see and imagine. What I'd like to focus on here, though, is to the use of political fear as an excuse to move against the less powerful in society in order to ensure that they don't get any more power.
I would argue that it's even more: That the people who are now tasting power want more power for themselves -- power beyond simply disempowering the already powerless.
We should not deceive ourselves into thinking that these people are just cynically manipulating our fears of foreign enemies to get us to move against domestic reformers. They are manipulating our fears, it is true, but it's out of a conviction of the rightness of their cause. They are True Believers that domestic reform movements threaten their power, the overall national unity, and civic order every bit as much as foreign enemies do. Foreign and domestic enemies constitute a seamless whole; national unity, civic order, and their social power constitute a seamless whole as well.
Here I would quibble with the good General Mr. Cline [corrected - mg], for I believe we're talking about factions enjoying or coveting power unprecedented in American life -- power to not only entrench their own positions against all comers, but to control American people in ways heretofore not even possible.While there's no doubt that we have a ruling class eager to keep the rest of us down, there are glimmers of new thinking, perhaps with notions that they can set themselves up with unapproachable power.Let's just tick off the issues of the day, and (re)consider them in this context:
- National ID card
- RFID chips in passports
- "Enemy Combatant"
- Identity theft
- Voting machines
- No-fly lists
- Sneak and peak
- Government seizing search engines and phone records
I don't know. I don't think I can trust the Republicans.