Let’s Rethink Government by Fear

Apr 21, 2021
Jerry Nelson

While not many people would compared the administration of the 45th president to Tamerlane or Stalin, one person did compare the 45th President to Hitler.

Anne Frank's Stepsister, Eva Schloss, did tell Newsweek magazine that Donald Trump Was Acting Like Hitler'. Schloss, who was 86 at the time, she didn’t stop there.

On April 9, 2021, Schloss, now 91, said in an interview that former Trump “obviously admired Hitler” and “copied him with his anti-Semitism,” according to The Daily Beast.

Schloss discussed her opinion of Trump when asked about the increase in anti-Semitism during Trump’s presidency.

“You know, he’s said so many silly things,” she told The Daily Beast. “I’ve compared him to Hitler. I even heard that he studied Hitler’s speeches and things like that, so he obviously admired Hitler and just copied him with his anti-Semitism.”

The outcomes of Tamerlane’s, Stalin’s, or Hitler’s rule may have been slightly different, the engine which drove each administration was fear. In at least one realm the second in command took the lead as happened in Germany.

Nazi leader Hermann Göring, a leader of the Nazi Party and one of the primary architects of the Nazi police state (1933–45) known as the Third Reich in Germany, explained how people can be made fearful and to support a cause they otherwise would oppose:

“The people don't want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” [emphasis mine].

Trump learned Goring’s teaching well. On July 24, 2020, with 100 days left before the election, US News reported Trump focused on instilling fear and chaos while Biden pitched stability.

Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters denigrated Biden as Sleepy Joe as they played the part of Chicken Little’s protagonist.

Chicken Little

Many people remember the story of Henny Penny.

The political lesson in the story is ‘fearmongering’.

Fearmongering – whether justified or not – can sometimes elicit a societal response called Chicken Little syndrome, described as "inferring catastrophic conclusions possibly resulting in paralysis". It has also been defined as "a sense of despair or passivity which blocks the audience from actions".

Some believe the moral of the story is not to be a 'chicken' but to have courage. Others say that the story is a 'warning' that you should not believe everything that you are told.

Consequences of Government by Fear

A 2020 survey, Fear Itself: The Causes and Consequences of Fear in America reported:

“Fear of outsiders [a bad, illiberal kind of fear] also proved consequential to explain something that initially baffled pundits, scholars, and the public alike: the unprecedented political rise of Donald Trump”

‘Fear of outsiders…’ Remember the Muslim travel ban? Trump’s constant claim that “Crime was highest in Democrat controlled cities”?

No president since Nixon has deployed fear quite like Donald J. Trump. Whether it is the prospect of a crime wave at the border with Mexico or nuclear war with North Korea, Trump has persuaded his supporters that there is plenty to fear beyond fear itself.

In an interview as a presidential candidate in 2016 with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post, Mr. Trump said, “Real power is — I don’t even want to use the word — fear.”

Government by fear can result in a loss of freedom and basic human rights.

The American culture tends to reduce very complicated questions into very simple ideas. Very rarely are these simplifications appropriate or accurate.

When Barack Obama was elected, gross simplifications were made of his policies and they were rendered for the viewing audience as 31 Flavors of Doom - his foreign policy would destroy the nation, his economic and health care policy would doom it domestically, the every mysterious ‘they’ would take away guns — but none of this materialized.

When government by fear is freed to run amuck, relationships with traditional allies are weakened, taxes are raised on working people to finance tax cuts for the wealthiest, and Social Security and Medicare benefits, for future retirees, are slashed.

“Separate but Equal” is restored to the American school system. The Roberts Court has shown a disgusting appetite for the institutions of racial discrimination. This is an item that we won’t feel the effects of for decades.

Government by Fear Doesn’t Just Happen at the Federal Level

If people could fight COVID with guns, Tennessee’s legislators would be health care champions.

As it happens, the best weapons against COVID re masks, physical distances and vaccines — none of which most legislators are keen on promoting.

Instead, they are keen on blocking them.

Faced with a disease which has killed hundreds of thousands of people in America, they conclude the gravest threat to Tennesseans is — government.

With that in mind, they introduced a variety of measures to prohibit or limit the government’s ability to require masks or vaccinations, to restrict the number of people athering in churches, or to curtail business operations or travel.

Get the picture?

Some of the measures introduced have already withered on the vine. Others should. Regardless, it’s instructive to follow the reasoning — if reasoning is the right word.

For example, Senate Bill 187, was meant to prevent state or local authorities from forcing anyone to get a COVID vaccine, a prospect that no one has suggested. But the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jancie Bowling of Tullahoma, was clear when speaking to a committe studying SB187. “The bill,” she said, “ was designed to assuage the fear in many Tennessee people.” Fear that she proceeded to stoke with misinformation.

Among her asssertions, she claimed that though the Spanish flu in 1912 killed 500 million people worldwide, a figure she inflated by at least a factor of 10, “we enver shut down one school or church or business and people didn’t run around with pieces of cloth over their mouths.”

Yes, Janice, they did. In a variBowling pety of places, across the nation, schools, churches and business were closed and mask orders issued. Then, as now, there was resistance and uneven compliance. It’s history and easy enough to look up.

Senator Bowling also sought to minimize the threat posed by COVID as she claimed a fatality rate of “-.4%”.

More Bowling: “There is much research that shows that the Moderna and the Pfizer shots can be very dangerous to young people of child-producing age.”

More Johns Hopkins: “The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility.”

Bowling also offered a bizarre theory of how the efficacy rates of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are calculated, and suggested people would be much better off with “ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, Vitamin D3, C and zinc.”

The Food and Drug Administration warns specifically against the use of ivermectin – an anti-parasite – for the treatment of COVID. If my doctor recommended any of the other stuff instead of a vaccine, I’d look for a new doctor.

“So people ask why is government trying to limit the movement and quarantine 99.6% of the population that are well,” she added.

Bowling admitted to not being a doctor. She’s also not a mathematician.

To begin with, the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show COVID’s case fatality rate in America is 1.8% or four times what Bowling claimed. Federal officials meanwhile cite COVID as the third-leading cause fo American deaths in 2020.

In any case, subtracting the fatality rate from 100% doesn’t identify the number of people who are “well”, it only identifies those COVID victims who aren’t dead.

Despite these, and other falsehoods, the bill sailed though committee 8-1. Bowling, in making her case, asserted, “People are afraid of government and they have the right to be.”

With people like Bowling in Tennessee, that’s hard to argue with.

By Contributor:

Jerry Nelson

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Jerry Nelson is an American writer living the expat life in Argentina. You can find him at any of their hundreds of sidewalk cafes and hire him through Fiverr. Join the quarter-million who follow him on Twitter.

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