Thanks to Right Wing corporate media we hear it all the time.
Democrats want Death panels and a Death tax. Obama is a Marxist, Muslim racist with a deep seated hatred for white people. Obama’s socialism is destroying America. Obama doesn’t like America. Liberals don’t have family values and they hate personal responsibility. Taxes “punish” the rich, and are “oppressive tyranny”. Obama is another Stalin. Obama is another Hitler. Liberals blame America first. We want our country back! If ballots don’t work, bullets will.
Man, I’m getting more than a little frightened, not to mention quite angry. Hurry! Somebody DO something to save us from this great evil!
All right, let me catch my breath and settle down here.
This is all about fear, you know.
Fear is the most primal emotion. It can alert us to danger and save us from harm, or it can disable us from within. It can cause us to react with violence towards a perceived threat. Sometimes the threat may not even be real, or so minor that fear triggers a destructive over-reaction. We’ve learned there’s no reasoning with it. We’ve seen fear of the hooded prowler used as a tool to manipulate people into spending their money on products like burglar alarms or private security services.
We’ve also learned fear can be nurtured by powerful entities that gain more power through inciting fearfulness in people. Uncertainty, confusion, anger, and ignorance feed fear. Frightened people ask fewer questions and obey authority more quickly. Fear of terrorism and anger at Arabs and Islam for 9-11 are how Right Wing Authoritarians Bush and Cheney led us to war based on their lies. Fear, along with anger and resentment, is an important tool for Right Wing Authoritarian leaders to influence people.
Fear of death and eternal punishment may well be the primary reason Right Wing Authoritarians embrace religion. Perhaps that may be their only foundation for morality and disincentive for violence against fellow humans. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out. Crusades, Inquisitions, Jihad, witch burnings, and maybe the invasion of Iraq seem to happen despite, or perhaps due to religious beliefs of authoritarians. Personally, I still think simple greed and lust for power have more to do with these events.
Anyway, it’s time to bravely face the gaping jaws of fear that are devouring America. It’s time we understood knowledge, information, education, tolerance compassion, experience, and openness go far to mitigate fear. It’s time for rational examination and an open honest study of what fear is and how it works on some people more than others.
For a start, could it be conservatives are more prone to the effects of fear? Last month there was an interesting study mentioned in The Telegraph (UK). It seems conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas, centers of primitive emotions, than are found in the brains of liberals. Check out the article, “Political views 'hard-wired' into your brain”.
Hey, I didn’t invent this science, I’m just reporting it.
For my short take on Authoritarians, see my post from May 2008.
For further reading on Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) personalities I recommend John Dean’s book “Conservatives Without Conscience”. His book draws from the work of Robert Altemeyer.
Professor Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba has generously made his book available for free online at The Authoritarians.
For all you anti-science conservatives who may be outraged at such a notion as a “conservative brain”, take comfort. There could also be a “liberal gene”.
For more on Right Wing resentment, see Mobilization Of Resentments from December 2009.