Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Politics of Fear

On both Hardball and Countdown pundits are discussing the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” issue and are speculating as to the wisdom of Republicans making this a talking point for the fall election. With polls running 70% against the mosque, I don’t understand the question.

Xenophobia is a very common cultural reaction to prolonged economic stress, and I’m not sure why anyone is surprised by it surfacing now. The focus is on foreigners “taking our jobs” but it goes much deeper than that. The reality is that it allows a diversion from fear, and fear is a large and growing part of our culture today, stoked by our leadership.

Fear is a very uncomfortable position. It is a position difficult to admit and impossible to thrive upon. Demagogues throughout history have fed fear and then diverted it to hate, an emotion more easily admitted and sustained, and our leadership today is little better than demagoguery.

The Republicans are trying to make us afraid of Muslims and Hispanics, and the Democrats are trying to make us afraid of Republicans.

Every message from politics today is a message, at best thinly disguised, of what we should fear and how the messenger is the only one who can maintain safety from it. Obama himself, rather than supporting his party’s candidates with recitations of the accomplishments of the current session of Congress, is instead thundering about the dire consequences of allowing the Republicans to come to power.

So, yes, Republicans will run on the “Ground Zero Mosque” issue, and Democrats will flounder helplessly in the face of it or, like Harry Reid, join the chorus.

Update: No, I am not saying it's a valid campaign issue. The Mormons built a church about one hundred feet from my house, and I had no objection.
I'm not afraid of Mormons, Muslims or Hispanics. Um, maybe I better add Asians to that.

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