The Politics of Fear.

Following World War II, Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist, was granted access to all of the prisoners held in the Nuremberg jail. During one of his conversations with Nazi leader, Hermann Goering, Gustave said, “I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.”

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering responded. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

Gustave countered, “There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.” “Oh, that is all well and good,” said Goering, “But, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

You could easily see this philosophy at work in Bush’s run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq when those opposed to the war were questioned for their patriotism, and our long-time ally, France, was vilified for not participating in the war.

And today, in the midst of mid-term elections, we can see Goering’s principle at work again. Despite much evidence to the contrary, Republicans like John “McNasty” McCain and Jan “Clueless” Brewer have focused anger on Mexican immigrants, blaming them for everything from crime to unemployment to our budget woes.

Led by Fox Noise Channel, Republicans have created a similar right wing outcry against Muslims for daring to propose a community center near Ground Zero. The ensuing “debate” has fueled anti-Muslim fervor across the nation, resulting in the arson of a Tennessee mosque and wingnuts calling for an “exception” to our Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Conservatives have fueled anti-Obama hatred with vile emails accusing him of being an un-American-Socialist-Communist-Nazi-racist-Muslim. They have falsely accused him of banning prayer in military academies, of forcing the removal of crosses from military cemetaries, of promoting Muslim holidays…the list is too lengthy to continue.

As a result of this nonsense, it appears that Republicans are poised to win many more seats in Congress despite policies that led to two wars, an economic collapse and the raping of the middle class by the wealthiest two percent of this nation. I guess the lesson is that it’s easy to win elections by creating hatred toward minorities. It’s much more difficult to win elections on ideas and relevant issues.