Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nothing new: The politics of fear

"We are again being told to be afraid. As it was before the two world wars, so it is now; politicians talk in frightening terms, journalists invent scare-lines, and even next-door neighbors are taking up the cry: The enemy is at the city gates; we must gird for battle. In case you don't know, the enemy this time is ________."

The quote is from Frank Chodorov, November 1954, recalled in Murray Rothbard's The Betrayal of the American Right. (Page 135 - and watch for more about this book in days and weeks to come) I left the blank because it could be anytime, anyone. Chodorov was writing that day about fear of the Soviet Union. I could write it tonight about terrorists, or China, or illegal immigrants, or obesity or Big Tobacco.

We are always being told to be afraid, by politicians, by journalists and even next-door neighbors. These influential people remain more focused on the fear of death than on the joy of living. Politicians want you to be afraid, because it makes you easier to manipulate. Journalists, most of them anyway, are only reporting what they hear, and what they hear much of the time is about what politicians want their readers, listeners and viewers to fear. Next-door neighbors ought to know better, but they just parrot what they hear from politicians and journalists.

As Rothbard, Chodorov and countless others concluded, the fear-mongers were right: The enemy is at the gates, but the enemy is not Russian, Arab, terrorist or even a tobacco farmer. The enemy is the politician who would strip you of your freedom in the name of protecting you against the terror du jour.

Here's the dirty little secret: There is nothing to fear. Chances are close to 100% that the dark-skinned fella behind the counter is not a terrorist. The typical Iraqi is more concerned about feeding his kids than converting you to Islam. That bag of French fries is not going to kill you, and neither is that cigarette, at least not today, not by themselves.

As long as you let them scare you, you are the pawn of the politician. Here's what to say to the fear monger: I'm not afraid. I'm not even afraid of you, who want me to be afraid so I will voluntarily to submit to an unconstitutional search, so I will voluntarily disarm myself, so I will voluntarily stop telling my friends and neighbors not to be afraid of you.

I've said this before, and I don't have a death wish - I simply say this because it's true, and guess what? You're going to die someday anyway, and so am I - In the end, the only power the fear mongers have over a free human being is that they can kill you. They simply can't make you a slave without your permission. But, like the legendary vampire who can't enter a home without an invitation, the fear mongers will try every trick in the book to obtain your permission to enslave you. Bottom line - Charles Dickens' Jacob Marley was right: We forge our own chains.

You were born free. You can live and die free if you choose. First, refuse to be afraid.

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Blogger Wally Conger said...

FANTASTIC post! Glad to hear you enjoyed the Rothbard book.

11:42 PM  

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