Fear Is the Coin of the Realm

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Uh, oh! A new study reveals that “fears that the deadly strain of bird flu would move through Africa and Europe in flocks of wild birds have so far proven unfounded….” That means one less fear that the feds can use to frighten grown-up American men and women as an excuse for more federal power-grabbing.

Fear, of course, has been the coin of the realm for oppressive and dictatorial governments throughout history. Frighten the citizenry and they’ll practically beg you to take away their freedom. That’s in fact how Hitler convinced the German parliament to give him temporary dictatorial powers after terrorists firebombed the German parliament building.

When Soviet communism, which had been used for decades to justify ever-increasing budgets for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department, expired with the fall of the Berlin Wall, new official fears had to be found. And fast! Federal power and federal budgets depended on it. There were, for example, the drug lords, who were coming to get us and put us on drugs. My favorite though was — “an unsafe world,” which was enough to scare anyone to death.

Along came Saddam, who had been a good friend and ally of U.S. officials. His invasion of Kuwait provided them with more than a decade of fear-mongering (and ever-growing budgets), ultimately culminating in the deep (and baseless) fear that this “new Hitler” was about to unleash an imminent WMD attack on the United States.

No one can deny that 9/11 has been the biggest power-grabbing bonanza for power-loving federal politicians and bureaucrats since the Civil War. The terrorists, who are reacting to the power-grabbers’ own foreign policies, are coming to get us! Don’t even read the USA PATRIOT Act — just enact it! Turn those airports over to the feds — fast!

There was also an endless array of other new Hitlers and dangerous regimes for Americans to be scared of — Osama (another former friend and ally of U.S. officials), Chavez, Zarqawi, Muqtada al-Sadr, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Russia, and China.

Fear. Fear. Fear.

Isn’t it ironic that we have the most powerful empire in history, whose very own policies have often produced the things we’re supposed be afraid of, and yet, at the same time, the most frightened grownups in the world?

Isn’t that grand? Just implement the policies that produce the problem, which creates the crisis, which engenders the fear, which causes grown-ups to quiver and quake and beg the government to protect them by taking away their freedoms.

Is it really surprising that 63 percent of Americans support the government’s illegal and unconstitutional monitoring of people’s telephone records? The sheeplings are bleating to the power-grabbing wolves, “Please, do whatever is necessary to protect me from the big bad terrorists. Take away my freedoms if you have to because I am so scared. I love you and I trust you.”

The libertarian battle to restore liberty to our country lies not only in opposing the big-government conservatives and liberals who infect our land. It lies also in stiffening the spines of millions of American sheeplings who have done what people throughout history have done — succumbed to the endless array of fears engendered by the government power-grabbers as a way to take away the freedoms of all of us.

May 16, 2006

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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