[No Comment ]Broadcast from the Ministry of Fear | Harper's Magazine

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[No Comment]

Broadcast from the Ministry of Fear

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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.

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