Wednesday, October 6, 2021


                                                                   Sydney M. Williams


Thought of the Day


October 6, 2021


We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas,

alien philosophies, and competitive values; for a nation that is afraid to let its people

judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        President John F. Kennedy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          February 26, 1962

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Speech at HEW


How far ago it was when a Democrat President could speak of open markets and of trusting the American people. Fear has become a tool of American politicians, especially those on the left, to help control the people they are supposed to serve. In a recent issue of The Spectator, regarding the United States’ handling of the COVID-19 virus, Karol Markowicz wrote: “We are in a moment of profound fear in the U.S…We cannot continue to succumb to a fear of life. We must not continue to be scared of each other.” Yet, politicians used fear to place the sick in nursing homes, and to close places of worship, schools and businesses, and to issue mask and vaccine mandates. 


As well, fear of climate change infects our youth. Writing in February 2020 in The Washington Post, Jason Plautz wrote: “Kids are terrified, anxious and depressed about climate change,” while academics, politicians and certain businesses thrive on this fear. Michael Moore and Al Gore made millions out of scaring people about climate change. Thomas P. Gloria, managing director of Industrial Ecology Solutions and Program Director, Sustainability, Harvard Extension School, wrote in the April 22, 2020, edition of the Harvard Gazette: “My fear is, despite the science and the early warning signals that we bear witness to – record temperatures, 1000-year storms, glacial retreat, coral reefs dying on a continental scale – global society may finally wake up, but it may be too late.” 


Fear of expressing non-conventional ideas has become pervasive. Many will not speak out for fear of financial retaliation. Ted Rall, author of The Stringer, wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal: “What meaningful difference is there between an authoritarian state, where saying the wrong thing can get you arrested, and a regime of economic censorship, in which the consequence of unpopular expression results in unemployment, potentially followed by eviction and destitution?” A culture that cancels history and opinions is one that denies free speech. How many students fear expressing opinions that depart from a progressive narrative that has become ubiquitous? How many junior executives question their senior managers? Do members of Congress let demands of Party out-weigh their own consciences? Fear of failing grades, loss of job and political retribution are used to suppress speech and control people. 


Yet is this fear justified? COVID-19, is likely to soon become endemic, as Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease physician and professor at the University of California San Francisco, wrote a week ago in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: “…no virus in history has ever continued to evolve to higher pathogenicity…An endemic virus doesn’t require continuing isolation and other restrictions.” And was Mr. Gloria injecting fear of climate change to encourage funding for his management consulting firm? Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Danish think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center, spoke in March of this year on Fox News: “Yes, climate change is a real problem. However, it is typically vastly exaggerated, and the resulting alarmism is exploited to justify the spending of trillions.” He added: “They claim that ‘countless lives’ are being lost to climate related disasters worldwide. Yet, the International Data Base (maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau) shows that in the 2010s 18,357 people died each year (on average) from climate-related impacts such as floods, droughts, storms, wildfire and extreme temperatures. That is the lowest count in the past century, a 96% decline from the 1920s, despite a larger global population. And 2020 had an even lower death count of 8,086.” As for fear of speaking out, Ted Rall concluded his op-ed referenced above: “When two-thirds of self-identified moderates are scared to express their views in public for fear of losing their jobs, America has ceased to be a free society.” It is this fear that should be our primary concern.


Fear is a natural human emotion, which alerts us to the presence of danger. It helps us prepare for, avoid, or survive threats to our safety. But the instillation of fear is also a weapon long used by governments to control their citizens. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt wrote of how quickly – less than ten years – Germany went from a functioning democracy to operating concentration camps. Fear is what keeps such movements alive, where lies are claimed as gospel, where history is changed to suit the narrative, where the line between truth and falsehoods becomes blurred, and where opinions are expressed as empirical facts. 


In such an environment, independent thinkers are excised, and bureaucracies are expanded. It is not necessarily the rise of new totalitarian governments that concerned Ms. Arendt. She wrote: “Totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations, which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man.” We, as a people, should worry when government harnesses fear to perpetuate itself through special powers. We should be concerned when people fear expressing opinions contrary to convention – conventional dogmas, institutionalized by progressive politicians and bureaucrats and abetted by a sycophantic press and monopoly-like social media companies. 


COVID-19 has been a threat, which is being addressed by drugs and vaccines. Climate change is real, but it always has been and is also being addressed. What should concern us most are infringements on free speech, the cancellation of history and censorship. We should be alert to ubiquitous government and monopolistic social media companies. Facebook and Twitter have powers that Hitler, Stalin and Mao could only dream of. According to Statista, Facebook has over 200 million users in the United States and 1.7 billion worldwide. Twitter has an estimated 77 million American users and over 200 million worldwide. The ability to manipulate people, which these companies possess, is something that the world has never-before faced. And now they have become platforms for political advocacy, and they censor people and ideas that do not conform to their preferred narrative.


Warren Buffett once said that no one should bet against the United States. But the challenge we face today is unlike any we faced before – a cultural war, which divides people by race, gender and religion for the benefit of certain businesses, activists, progressive politicians and government bureaucrats. Unlike a civil war, this one suppresses personal initiative. It elevates the tribe, race or gender over the individual. It focuses on equality of outcomes at the expense of equal opportunity. Merit has surrendered to inclusivity. Work has lost its dignity. Personal responsibility and independence have been abandoned for dependency on government. Fear is a weapon of choice of those who prosecute this war.


As President Kennedy said in 1962, “…a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” Democracy only works when citizens are without fear to express opinions, and when the marketplace for ideas is free and open. The loss of that freedom, which this war on traditional, western culture is provoking, is something we should all fear.

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