The Fear Machine: Conservatives Inventing Their Own Demons

Posted in General by TBartine on August 9, 2009 No Comments yet

Time for the RLF to go back to its roots.  In its inception, the RLF acted primarily as a “fact-checking blog,” serving to combat the vast number of emails and blog posts that surfaced during the 2008 campaign.  Most often, these emails/blogs sought to capitalize on the fears and prejudices of the American citizenry through the use of fear and race based tactics, often cleverly enveloped in entertaining stories, allegories, jokes, and gossip.

Well…it appears that “they” are at it again.

Here is an example to serve as food for thought.  A friend recently posted the following “story” on a social networking site…I will post it here in its entirety:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before,
but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK,
we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.?

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.?
The second test average was a D!
No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering,
blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.?

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

As the late Adrian Rogers said, ‘you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it..’

The allure of such stories is obvious.  The oversimplified nature of the argument and the “entertainment” quality will garner assent from many who don’t actually wish to understand the full argument any better, or to perform any research or analysis.  This was reflected in many of the comments to my friend’s post:

  • One person wrote, “very nice…now if we could only get the rest of America to see and understand this…but every one is so caught up in the peace and love bullsh-t…and the lets help the world while our our country has problems crap…anyways dont get me started …nice post
  • Another had this to say: “I’ve seen this before. I love it. I’m tired of the sense of entitlement SO many have. I fear where we are headed.

My response: “Interesting story…too bad it is a classic “straw man.” It represents the fallacious debate tactic where your opponent’s position is misrepresented so it is easier to defeat. Obama is represented as proposing full socialism, and a system where ‘no one is rich and no one is poor.’

This is NOT the position Obama has proposed.

For example, on health care he has proposed adding ONE single socialized plan to compete against a multitude of private plans. No one pickets with “down with socialism” signs outside of the post office, because it is somehow unfair to UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. No one pickets outside public schools, because they represent unfair competition to private schools.

To follow this example: Too poor to send your letter FedEX…go to the Post Office. Too poor to send your kids to private school…send them to public. Too poor to afford health insurance…we’ll see you in the emergency room…and the cost of your visit will be added to EVERYONE ELSE’S premium.

While I attempted to address the issue at hand…I neglected to address the LARGER issue.  Didn’t I?

When, during the Bush administration, our country…the country they claim to want “back“…was taking clear steps towards totalitarianism and fascism…where was their outrage?  Americans…jailed indefinitely without access to habeas corpus, an attorney, or any other element of due process.  Citizens’ phones…tapped without legal warrant.  Citizens’ phone records and emails…illegally gathered.  Unprecedented violations of the separations of Church and State.  Unprecedented trespasses of the Executive Branch into the powers of the Legislative Branch.  Billions of dollars channeled, often outside established, legal bidding practices, to the private military industrial complex.  Big pharma, big insurance, big lending, big investing industries…acting outside the law, making record profits, defrauding consumers, and without regulation.  The Justice Department and the Intelligence Community…politicized and lying to Congress, and by extension, the American people.  The White House, cherry-picking intelligence, even using disproven intelligence, to goad Congress and the American people to war.

All dissent…labeled unpatriotic…even traitorous.  Where was their frightened outrage then?

Now, they shadowbox at nonexistent demons.  They use words like “socialism,” “fascism,” “communism,” and even “nazism” without knowledge of their meaning or their proper application.  They accept the wild hyperbole that they hear as fact:  one “new socialized insurance plan” equals a “government takeover.”  A “new tax for the wealthiest 1% of Americans” equals “nobody gets to be rich anymore.“  Optional “hospice and medical rights counseling” for seniors equals “forced euthanasia.” Affordable, subsidized health insurance for the lower and middle classes equals “free handouts for entitled, lazy people.“  Without a single fact to support it, they believe that government is taking over all industries, the economy will collapse, their taxes will become so high that they can’t pay them, we will lose all of our rights, we will lose all choice, and that Obama…is the bogeyman.

It reminds me of a child, running across his darkened bedroom at night.  Leaping into bed, because his big brother told him, “there are monsters under there.”  The child won’t look under the bed, because he is afraid of what he might see.  But if he would listen to his own reason, and summon up the courage to do so…

…he’d see there’s nothing there.  No monster.  No bogeyman. Just stark reality.

To those people I say:  Your “big brother” has lied to you.  He told you that your President, your teachers, your friends and coworkers, and many other of your fellow citizens are “monsters.”  Some, he said, are “monsters” called “socialists“…others are what he called “entitled people“…others he mentioned were “liberals,” and “elites,” and “foreigners,” and “non-Christians.”  If you would just consult reality for a moment (“look under the bed,” so to speak)…you’d see the people labeled in this way are no bogeymen.  Even the people who told you these tall tales aren’t “evil” or “monsters“…

…they’re just liars.

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