No Comment — February 27, 2008, 6:53 am

Broadcast from the Ministry of Fear

New York Times columnist William Kristol is a regular on Fox News, where he always has something to add to enliven the conversation. And on Sunday morning he had some very revealing advice for Hillary Clinton. Let’s go to the video.

The key that Hillary can use to take down Barack Obama, says this political analyst, is “the politics of fear.” In fact, Kristol is to be congratulated for stating an operational principle that can be distilled from much of his rhetoric. He is convinced that fear-mongering works very effectively in a democratic society, especially when it gets proper reverberation within the mass media.

Kristol is being sold to us as a “conservative” commentator. I see nothing “conservative” about his thinking or tactics. They smack of something entirely different. I would draw on Edmund Burke for an understanding of the values of the political conservative. And here is what Burke had to say about the tactics of fear:

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. . . Those despotic governments, which are founded on the passions of men, and principally upon the passion of fear, keep their chief as much as may be from the public eye.

Fear is employed to cripple reason, to enslave, to craft tyrannical rule, he says. Fear is not a tool that a democratic state uses on its own people. This is a simple, fundamental, vital point. And Kristol exposes a crude cynicism–enough to cause a real conservative to become nauseous.

I propose that we keep on top of Mr. Kristol. Let’s open a “Ministry of Fear Watch” and keep count of his fear-mongering or fear-enabling in coming months. Readers are invited to note and clip Mr. Kristol’s fear-mongering, to be recorded and discussed in this space.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2016

Unhackable

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

American Imperium

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fighting Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Front Runner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Habits of Highly Cynical People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Elisabeth Zerofsky on Marine Le Pen, Paul Wachter on the quest for an unhackable email, Rebecca Solnit on cynical people, Andrew J. Bacevich on truth and fiction in the age of war, Samuel James photographs E.P.L. soccer, a story by Vince Passaro, and more

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Front Runner·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The F.N. asked to be sent to an institution whose legitimacy it did not accept, and French voters rewarded the party with first place in the election."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Memoir
I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A paean 2 Prince
"And one thinks, Looking into Prince's eyes must be like looking at the world."
Photo ©© PeterTea
Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As wacky as it sometimes appears on the surface, American politics has an amazing stability and continuity about it."
Article
Plexiglass·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Age at death last March of the sturgeon Nikita, Khrushchev’s gift to Norway, after an accidental immersion in salt water:

38

There were new reports of cannibalism in North Korea.

The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today