Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Politics of Fear

In one of my recent posts, “The Age of Reason is Dead”, I stated some of the causes that I believe have lead this nation to be, if not completely without reason, at the very least with a severe shortage of it. There is no simple answer for what has lead to the decline of reasoned and rationale dialogue in America, but if we look back over the last seven years it is easy to identify one major factor in the change of discourse in this nation and that factor is fear.

It is a well established fact that fears and reason are natural enemies in every human being. For hundreds, even thousands of years the great minds of their time have warned that fear and wisdom cannot coexist. Take for example these quotes from throughout the past centuries:

- Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be.—Lactantius

- No passion so effectually robs the mind of all it's powers of acting and reasoning as fear. Edmund Burke

- Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.—Thomas Jefferson

The latest scientific studies of how our brains work have only confirmed what ancient men already knew; when the fear centers of our brains are activated, the reasoning centers shut down. This is common knowledge, and the last seven years of political maneuvering have proven not only that this is true, but also that people in power can use this, “fear response”to quite effectively manipulate the general public into going along with things that they might very well question and object to, if not in a heightened state of anxiety.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, America was gripped with fear, and with good cause as these horrible deeds committed in the very heart of America was both shocking and unprecedented. At that moment it was apparent to all Americans that the country needed to make changes and heighten our national security efforts. The pervading sense of fear in those early days after the attack was a healthy reaction to a national trauma. Our nation’s leaders at that moment had a rare chance to use the unusual sense of bi-partisanship and goodwill and the power it gave them to achieve some truly needed changes, both in America’s national security and in its reputation throughout the world. Our president was given a remarkable amount of power at that time, and Americans trusted him to use it wisely. He started well, by actually going after the people who had attacked us, in Afghanistan, but then veered off course when he realized that by using Americans fears and in fact even encouraging them he could have free reign to implement, without any sort of reasoned discussion or dissent, whatever laws or course of action he felt like.

The obvious example of the, ‘fear mongering brings unprecedented power strategy’ of the current administration is the lead up to and eventual invasion of Iraq. There was never any evidence and there still isn’t that Iraq had anything to do with the attacks on America, or in fact that they we’re any sort of imminent threat to us, yet with Bush and his cronies appearing all over our tv screens talking over and over about how if we didn’t go along with his plans, we could expect mushroom clouds over American cities, the few voices of reason who tried to speak out with logic we’re quickly drowned out by the cries of those filled with anxiety by the images, not only of Sept. 11th, but of the mushroom clouds sure to come. I believe most Americans would agree that at the very least there should be much reasoned discussion, and dialogue throughout the halls of power and the nation, before this country embarks on the serious course of starting a war, and yet in the case of Iraq there wasn’t. The President managed, without any evidence, to convince the vast majority of this country that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to keep them safe. He did this, using not reason nor logic, but the tool he has become expert at wielding, pure fear.

The Iraq invasion is but one example among many of how fear can and has been used to manipulate Americans into discarding their reason or common sense if you will and standing by or even encouraging actions which violate the very principles this nation was founded upon. Other examples of this in brief are; illegal wire-tapping of American homes, the suspension of habeas corpus (the right to appear before a judge and defend yourself if accused of a crime), the discarding of the Geneva Convention and allowance by law of torture. The list goes on, but frankly if this is not enough to wake you up to the idea that our fears of terrorism are blinding us to the very real threat to this democracy from within, then I FEAR America is destined to fall.

"Often fear of one evil leads us into a worse." –Nicholas Boileau Desprsaux


Anonymous KWiz said...

The only thing I can say in response to this post, Leo, is "Amen!" Not in a religious sense (but maybe so). The only thing Bush knows how to play to in Americans is fear. And unfortunately, because many Americans don't know how to think, or allow others to do the thinking for them, play into the rhetoric. The sad thing is that Americans can't see it. It's more than subliminal seduction. Americans have allowed themselves to be utterly brainwashed.

Thank you for sharing the truth in such a clear manner.

6/08/2007 10:19 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Kwiz, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It's nice to know someone out there reads what I write occasionally-lol.

6/09/2007 2:33 PM  

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