The [Election] Fear Factor
By Andrew L. Jaffee, October 18, 2004
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After talking with some left-wing friends this weekend, I realized now more than ever that the question of whether to vote for Bush or Kerry truly boils down to another question, “A war for our lives, or a nuisance to our lifestyle?” The later question was asked on Friday by eminent historian Victor David Hanson. He answers it with honesty and erudition, but leaves out a very important point: the fear factor which prevents the left-wing from admitting that we are at war for our lives.
Hanson correctly identifies Kerry et al’s penchant for wanting to solve our foreign policy disputes through diplomatic bureaucracy ad nauseum -- e.g., the United Nations. He hints at the fear factor when he recognizes guilt (“noblesse oblige”) as a motivation for the left-wing’s so-called foreign policy. But Hanson never isolates the fear factor.
The Left constantly accuses President Bush of using terrorism to scare Americans into voting Republican, but these “liberals” are merely covering up their own fears. They rant about vague conspiracy theories claiming that the Iraq war was really about “blood-for-oil,” or that John Ashcroft is using the Patriot Act to surreptitiously erode American personal privacy. (Isn’t it John Kerry who now is trying to scare Americans by claiming Bush will reinstate the draft?)
Blood-for-oil? The U.S. continues to lose its sons and daughters for Iraqi democracy despite that country’s lower-than-potential oil production. As James David Dickson of the The Michigan Review says,
Although Iraq’s oil reserves, which account for 11% of the world’s proven supply of oil, are considerable, Iraqi oil is replaceable. With agreements between the US and the first and fourth-largest oil producing nations, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to increase their production of oil in Iraq’s stead, one must wonder why, if it were not for the fact that Iraq is a threat to others and a tyranny domestically, its disarmament would matter quite so much.
Are John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act really eroding the personal freedoms of U.S. citizens? Not if you ask Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who said:
…she has received more than 21,000 complaints about the Patriot Act. However, those complaints either were against Patriot Act II, a bill rumored but never proposed, or against the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which requires people from certain countries to be photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed.
John Kerry enthusiastically supported the Patriot Act. Though he now claims he’ll do something vague like “handle it better,” this just exposes Kerry’s pattern of taking every conceivable side of every conceivable issue.
Leftists would deny it, but in their hearts of hearts they know for sure that terrorism is real and, in fact, undeniable. Look at 9/11 (3,000 murdered), the Bali bombing (202 killed), the “3/11” Madrid attacks (200 slain), and the hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of Iraqi civilians killed by terrorist thug Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (who now has officially pledged his allegiance to al-Qaeda). Despite these hard and ugly facts, some of my left-wing friends insist that terrorism is a fantasy concocted by the evil Bush administration to… well, they can’t really explain why on first try. When I press them, they trot out the tired old socialist dogma that Republicans are only interested in making the rich richer. By distracting “us” (the people?) with terrorism, the fat-cats can conceal all their corporate corruption.
While the leftists pooh-pooh terrorism, my only conclusion is that they really are afraid -- very afraid -- of terrorism. Who isn’t afraid of terrorism? Beheadings, blowing up cafes full of teenagers, ramming airliners filled with innocents into skyscrapers filled with innocents… These are all horrible, savage, and uncivilized acts. But there is a difference between a healthy fear and a paralytic fear which prompts denial.
Both sides, Republican and Democrat, are afraid of terrorism, but the Right and probably most American centrists realize that terrorists must be confronted with an iron will. The Arab and Muslim worlds are dominated by tyrants practicing a “disagree with me and you’re dead” form of Realpolitik. The Right realizes that the terrorists respect nothing but strength.
The Left is paralyzed with fear. Since they are afraid to confront the very scary terrorists, they create conspiracy theories to deflect from the true issues of our time. Just as Neville Chamberlain thought he could appease Hitler, just as the Europeans thought they could appease Soviet evil, the Left now seeks to appease the Islamist terrorists.
Confronting and destroying the terrorist enemy means taking real actions, like President Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But actions are risky, especially if you are a leftist whose hope of hopes and dream of dreams is that terrorists can be reasoned with, or that if we just leave the terrorists alone, they won’t bother us anymore. John Kerry’s false logic would claim that America’s presence in Iraq is creating more terrorists. Hopes and dreams won’t defeat an enemy which trains children to believe they should blow themselves up in order to kill as many civilians as possible. The sheer brutality and evil of Islamist violence should convince all people this is an enemy worth defeating. Unfortunately, fear has overridden leftist sensibility (as if there were any remaining in the worn-out dogma).
While only hinting at the fear factor, Victor David Hanson captures the thinking of the appeasers:
The artists, musicians, and entertainers have also railed against the war. In the therapeutic mindset, the refinement and talent of a Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Bruce Springsteen, or John Fogerty earn respect when they weigh in on matters of state policy. But in the tragic view, they can be little more than puppets of inspiration. Their natural gifts are not necessarily enriched by real education or learning. Indeed, they are just as likely to be high-school or college dropouts and near illiterates, albeit with good memories, voices, and looks. The present antics of these influential millionaire entertainers should remind us why Plato banished them — worried that we might confuse the inspired creative frenzies of the artisans with some sort of empirical knowledge. But you can no more sing, or write, or act al Qaeda away than the equally sensitive novelists and intellectuals of the 1930s or 1940s could rehabilitate Stalin.
The contradictions of the leftist mindset are indeed “one dimensional and unsophisticated,” but also very complicated. Because of what the Left perceives as a long history of wrongs perpetrated under the banner of, for example, Christianity and the Crusades, many have rejected the tenets of Judeo-Christianity in favor of belief systems like Hinduism or Native American animism. Because they feel guilty about the British Raj, Cortez, Pizarro, Columbus, and/or the American institution of slavery, they engage in pseudo-history and pseudo-anthropology. The “greens” perpetuate myths about how Native Americans were so peaceful, while ignoring the wholesale imperialism and human sacrifice practiced by the Mayas, Aztecs, Toltecs, and Incas, to name of few. Their hope of hopes leads them to believe that Islamists cannot be truly evil because the grass is always greener outside of capitalist America. "Brown-skinned” people are somehow not really people -- at least better than us slavery-stained, imperialist pink-skins. The problem with all this revisionist religion is that it is not even true.
If you read the first few pages of one of Hinduism’s greatest texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, the protagonist Arjuna voices reticence about going to war. The manifestation of G#d, Krishna, chides Arjuna thusly:
Arjuna, is this hour of battle the time for scruples and fancies? Are they worthy of you, who seek enlightenment? Any brave man who merely hopes for fame or heaven would despise them.
And G#d forbid I bring up Carlos Castaneda, one of the so-called “fathers of the 60’s psychedelic movement,” with my lefty friends. Castaneda told us, “Fear is the first enemy,” and that there is no hope for enlightenment if that enemy is not overcome. Sadly, my leftist buddies just want to talk about the hallucinogenic drugs that Castaneda’s Native American mentor Don Juan used to help his pupil rise above hyper-rationality. They totally miss the point. Drugs are 0.01% of Don Juan’s teachings. Most of Castaneda’s 13-odd books talk about pragmatic issues like personal responsibility, self-awareness, finding “a path with heart,” and conquering fear.
There are also those Jewish and Christian liberation-theology leftists who conveniently edit the Bible’s teachings. One I know has a bumper sticker which reads, “War is never the answer.” So I quote to her Ecclesiastes 3:
There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens. …
The response I get is that I should understand that the Bible was written long ago; times were different. Really? People seem to be doing a lot of things they always have done. Does “long ago” discount the wisdom of the ages? Would she argue that Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Saddam, and Milosevic were not evils worthy of “a time of war?”
Fear truly is the first enemy. Kerry and his constituency would have us hiding under our beds from al-Qaeda, negotiating with countries like France where people are practiced at appeasing evil, and passing a “global test” before we act to protect ourselves. So much fear, so little pragmatism.
Instead of confronting its own fears, the Left has engaged in a very complicated smoke-screen of denial. Through Michael Moore, it has trotted out all sorts of lies to smear President Bush as a Hitler-like figure. Only a deep-seated terror of reality would prompt people to go to such lengths to rationalize inaction or ineffective actions like appeasing dictators. Imagine Freud’s analysis of the current left-wing. Don’t send a copy to DNC headquarters. Victor David Hanson is right-on when asking the question, “A war for our lives, or a nuisance to our lifestyle?”
What bothers me most is that most lefties know in their hearts of hearts that we are in a war for our very lives, but they allow their fear of terrorism to deny it. I can hear their words in my mind: “We’re just going to piss off the Islamists more by going into Iraq” or “We’re creating more terrorists” or “Third-world people don’t want our damn fat-ass, SUV-driving democracy.” To their credit, my local lefty friends are educated people. On the other hand, they’re stupid in the sense that fear is now their only political motivation.
It is very comfortable for most people now in the U.S.; perhaps too comfortable. The Left masks its fear by believing that terrorism is a nuisance to our lifestyle. How do we convince them otherwise; that Islamism is a threat no less dangerous than was fascism and communism? If I could only get them to listen to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga:
We certainly have seen the results of appeasement... It's much easier to tolerate a dictator when he's dictating over somebody else's life and not your own. We have suffered through half a century because dictators were allowed to proceed unchecked in the faint hope that they would somehow see the light, or reform, or simply by indifference to those who have been affected by their actions.