Sunday, September 05, 2010

Speaking Out Against Fear

It’s not often that I agree with Nicholas Kristof, but his op-ed yesterday in the New York Times made a point worth repeating. He says that today’s anti-Islamism is based not so much on bigotry as it is on fear, and provides quite a lot of history as comparison. I think his point is quite valid.

Certainly fear has been a central campaign theme since 2001, and today’s economy has provided plenty of fuel for that fire. Both parties are making it their central theme, Republicans preaching fear of pretty much everything, while Democrats are trying to make voters afraid of George Bush.

Kristof finishes with,

Americans have called on moderates in Muslim countries to speak out against extremists, to stand up for the tolerance they say they believe in. We should all have the guts do the same at home.

That’s a little too softly worded, I think, and it misses a couple of bigger points. One point is that “moderates in Muslim countries” should not have to speak out against extremism, it is we here at home who should be speaking out instead, not “also.” The other is that we should be speaking out not against “extremism,” but against fear.

Our own leadership should be speaking out against the fear mongers. The problem is that it is our leaders who are the fear mongers.

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