On Tuesday Republicans held another debate that showcased a field of candidates that is utterly unprepared to lead a great nation. If there was one overarching theme from the affair it was that all Americans should be trembling with fear that ISIS sleeper cells are tucked away in their pantries ready to burst out and spray them with hot lead at any moment.
From the very start, the debate was oozing a scary tone intended to send nervous citizens scurrying to their basements. Even before the actual debating got under way, these excerpts from each of their opening statements show just how obsessed they were with frightening the nation:
- Rand Paul: The question is, how do we keep America safe from terrorism?
- Chris Christie: America has been betrayed. We’ve been betrayed by the leadership that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have provided to this country over the last number of years.
- Carly Fiorina: Like all of you I’m angry. I’m angry at what’s happening to our nation.
- Jeb Bush: Our freedom is under attack.
- Marco Rubio: America’s influence has declined while this president has destroyed our military.
- Ted Cruz: America is at war.
- Ben Carson: Right now, the United States of America is the patient. And the patient is in critical condition.
- Donald Trump: People like what I say. People respect what I say.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about the debate. The rest was variations on that theme. And with the exception of Donald Trump, who characteristically focused his comments on himself, the other candidates all seem to believe that the United States is at risk of being destroyed by a band of thugs in a desert hideout thousands of miles away (Trump believes that too, he just didn’t mention it until later). They literally think that the U.S could be crushed by this enemy and cease to exist. Marco Rubio is running TV ads that say “either we win or they do.” Lindsey Graham frets that “they are gonna kill all of us.”
To be sure, terrorists are capable of causing serious harm to the innocent victims they target. There is no way to diminish the grief felt by the survivors of the fourteen people murdered in San Bernardino last week. But to extrapolate from that that ISIS has the capacity to kill the rest of the 350 million of us and declare victory over America requires either a debilitating psychotic dysfunction or a deliberate desire to incite irrational fears.
The fear-fest orchestrated by the GOP candidates is itself a type of terrorism. After all, they are seeking to instill terror in the American people in order to influence how they vote. It’s their goal to convince people that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are responsible for weakening the nation to the point that it is at risk of being taken over by an army treading sand in converted Toyota pickup trucks. That’s right. What Germany, Japan, China, and the Soviet Union were unable to accomplish, ISIS is going to do.
But they didn’t come up with that horror story on their own. They are following the script that Fox News has been using for several years. Take for instance the candidates’ positions on targeting civilians with carpet-bombing raids. Ted Cruz used those very words to describe what he would do as Commander-in-Chief. Apparently he and his colleagues are not aware that it would be regarded as an international war crime. Rand Paul, to his credit, was the only one who pointed out that such a plan would require “tearing up the Geneva Conventions.” But Ben Carson and others were not dissuaded from advocating direct attacks on the families, including children, of suspected terrorists. Donald Trump framed his support for the policy by asking “So, they can kill us, but we can’t kill them?” Actually, the answer to that is “Yes.” Because they are terrorists and we, presumably, are not. Earlier this month Trump made his own explicit call to “take out” the families of terrorists.
So where might they have gotten these ideas? Well, one notable source could be Fox News strategic analyst, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret), who has advocated precisely this abhorrent tactic. He appeared on Fox News to complain that the U.S. military needed to buck up and produce more civilian casualties. He has also advocated targeting the media for military attacks, including in the U.S. That sort of barbarity sits well with Fox News and earns one frequent invitations to return. However, Peters was recently suspended for using naughty language on the air (he called Obama a “pussy”). So Fox News will punish you if you cuss, but not if proselytize for murdering women, children, and journalists. Shows you where their priorities lie.
The fear agenda was also pushed just one day before the debate by Fox’s star bloviator, Bill O’Reilly. In his hackneyed “Talking Points” commentary, O’Reilly employed his trademarked bluster to announce that “Anger and fear are presently driving American politics.” Considering his contribution to both, it might seem like he was bragging. No one has done more to frighten and enrage TV viewers than O’Reilly. His red-faced tirades, and brutish treatment of guests who disagree with him, are the model Fox uses for political discourse.
None of this is new for Fox News. This is their standard operating procedure to inject panic into the electorate. It’s a tactic they share with religious cults who seek to dominate weak minds. Just prior to the last election Fox was obsessed with Obama’s intention to deliberately infect every American with Ebola. You couldn’t turn on Fox News without being subjected to some scary music and graphics backing up a frantic dialog of imminent doom. Then, miraculously, the day after the election, Ebola was cured and disappeared from Fox’s broadcasts. And if it isn’t Ebola it’s illegal immigration, ObamaCare, the deficit, or Climate Change. Now Syrian refugees are today’s Ebola, and they are just as deadly as the frightful virus that Fox alleged would destroy America.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
In Fox’s world there is always something that is threatening to wipe this country off the map. It’s an odd paradigm for a network that also worships America as the bestest, strongest, nation in the history of mankind and, of course, God’s favorite. There is something schizophrenic about believing that we are simultaneously invincible and teetering on the brink of collapse. It’s an irrational mindset that only deeply indoctrinated cultists can hold. So, of course, the GOP has adopted it and made it the signature plank in their 2016 platform. And just in time to insure that everyone will have a Scary Christmas.