Scaremonger Logic: What Are They Scared Of?

I’m mostly talking about these very vague warnings and frequent scaremongering I often see on Facebook, usually blamed on Obama being president- surely you’ve seen it, going on lo these 5+ years of his presidency. “This country is in danger! I am scared for my children’s futures! Oh woe is me, we’re all in trouble!”

I often want to ask them directly just what it is that I’m supposed to be scared about and preparing for- war? Drought? Is he finally coming to take our guns? Put us all in prison camps? Biological warfare? Mandatory fanny-pack wearing? What is it??!

Does anybody know?

It’s not all that much different from belief in urban legends. It’s a way to try to feel smart, to fool others (and oneself!) into a sense of knowing secrets that others don’t.

They aren’t really scared. What they are is smug.

Can you link to an actual example? Is this something distinct from the Tea Party, which is always saying things like Obamacare will destroy the nation’s economy, etc.

The examples I have are really mostly from Facebook, so I really can’t link. But if you Facebook, you must see them, too. From conservatives, of course, but I have noticed that they’re never specific about what horrible things are going to happen. You’re right that it’s stuff like the Tea Party says about Obama. I just can’t figure out exactly how he’s going to destroy the economy, when it’s been this long, and if you look at the facts, the economy is doing much better than when he took office. And where was all this fear and desperation when Bush was in office and actually was destroying the economy?

Anyway, I really don’t want this to be a partisan thing- I really am just curious what we’re supposed to be so scared of.

Fundamental ideological differences; if all the liberal ideas were implemented to their fullest, conservatives would be very unhappy. And if all the conservative ideas were implemented to their fullest liberals would be very unhappy.

I think that right-wing paranoia mostly centers around the fear that the US will become a totalitarian state – either by gradual increments, or in a sudden swoop once the populace is rendered gunless. Other sources of paranoia include the fear that the US will surrender its sovereignty to a world government, and that American society will be swamped by a flood of immigrants.

With the Obama ones specifically, a lot of it is a fear of black people. There’s a number of directions you can go from this: if you’re actively racist, it’s upsetting to see your world turned upside-down, and you might worry that black people will treat you like you treat them. If you’re passively racist, you might worry subconsciously that you will have a smaller slice of the pie now that black people are sharing in power. I think a lot of these are vague because people don’t KNOW what they’re so worried about.

I’m the first generation where I am worse off than my parents, and that’s not for want of education and a work ethic. The reasons for this have nothing to do with race or who is president, but if you were inclined to blame and reaching for a scapegoat, I can see how Obama would be an easy target.

Edit: while I think most of the fears are totally groundless, I must admit to believing in creeping fascism or totalitarianism. Americans are distinctly less free than they were in my youth.

It’s also a closet fear that White Americans won’t be “in charge” anymore.

From complaints about affirmative action, to crime, to social programs, to immigration the ever-present “fear” is that someday White Americans will one day soon wake up and just be another group instead being the face of America. The GOP recognizes this fear and plays it up; the Dems recognize this fear and hand wave it or downplay it.

I’m African American and within my lifetime (I’m 47) I have seen the ethnic slurs used by Whites to disparage White ethnic groups almost completely diminish and those people finally allowed to become as “White” as the rest of the herd. Think about it: when’s the last time anyone heard or told a Polish joke? Or an Italian joke? Or a Jewish one?Hell, even lighter-skinned Latinos are getting to call themselves “White” now and no one is reminding them of their almost certain indian or African roots.

White Americans are consolidating themselves in the face of specter that they won’t be the “bosses” anymore and if it didn’t engender so prejudice against the other groups here (especially mine) it would be amusing to see.

Facebook is simply reflecting the subconscious issues and turmoil that is going on in the majority group in the United States. Scaremongers pick up on that turmoil and create pages to feed it.

“social unrest” “FEMA camps” And from one crazy email: "it won’t be pretty, empty shelves, highways will be clogged & closed, power outages, etc. – "

Plus, why are they buying so many bullets? Who are they planning on using them on? You and me, that’s who.

Oh, this one is good too:

Many reasons that have to do with actual substance have been advanced, and these reasons are no doubt legitimate, no matter how wrongheaded that substance is.

But I think the above too will always be a big part of it. People really LIKE feelings that run along the lines of “Well, I really know the score, and all the rest of you are clueless.”

The comment sections that follow stories on our local newspaper’s website are chock-full of people like this…people whose own lives are so devalued and worthless that this is the only way they can feel good about themselves. They seem to get extra mileage out of being viciously sardonic, too.

When I read stuff like this, all I can think of is “Boy, it must be hell waking up every morning and discovering that you’re still you.”

While I think there’s something to the comments about CT-smugness as a factor, I think there’s more to it.

The reason the fears are vague, I think, is because the specifics of the fear are unimportant. What is important to the scaremongers–even the ones who aren’t deliberately and cynically using it to increase their political power–is being afraid. Or rather, making sure other people are afraid. The motive is fundamental: a desire for cohesion. One of the strongest ways to bind people together is to make them afraid of what’s outside. “It’s dark out there! There could be wolves/monsters/holes to fall into! Stay here by the fire with us, where it’s safe.”

The world is changing. In fact, I think most people underestimate the scope of the changes. That can be scary, and some people crave the basic tribal comfort of being part of a cohesive group. They want the feeling of safety in numbers. But what if the people in their group change, too? What if they become part of the scary Outside? How could they feel safe then? (This doesn’t just apply to conservatives; change can be scary for anyone. However, conservatives are probably more vulnerable to this sort of thinking because of their tendency to resist change.)

So, they claim that there are scary things out there in the dark. They don’t have to define the scary things, and they can make them up if they have to. The important thing is making sure everyone is afraid to venture too far from the fire.

Several reasons I can think of:

One, they’re not specific because they want to get you to click on the link.

Two, they want to foment a general air of uneasiness, associating Obama’s name and picture with terror. As they say when making horror movies, the scariest monster is always the one in your head.

And three, they have a complicated list of things that would not be easy to stick onto a link so they don’t because they don’t want to hit you with a wall of text

There’s this running gag between me and this guy at work where anytime something goes wrong, one of us says “welcome to Obama’ America!” It works for anythng, out of creamer? Welcome to Obama’s America!

Needless to say, it goes beyond website pop-ups and Facebook. The scaremongers have taken to email too. Of course, like everyone, I’ve received goofy spam email for years. But ones with this tone seem to be a newer phenomenon.

Here (in all of its ungrammatical, ill-punctuated glory) is something I just received that, regrettably, my spam filters didn’t trap:

This is truly hilarious. Home sick, so I clicked the link, and so far, it’s all "in a minute, I’m going to tell you something! Really, any minute now! I’m totally going to tell you!

After a while, it turns out that the disaster is a “financial apocalypse.” As you’d expect, both data and logic are very silly, and seem to be targetting people traumatized by their parents’ memories of the Depression or perhaps the Weimar Republic. It then segues to Obama as dictator-in-waiting, including things like imposing martial law in emergencies. The US government is going to loot your home, which is a nice, personal touch for an authoritarian regime. Eventually, it devolves to a sales pitch for a survivalist manual written by this loon. When you navigate away, a little button pops up saying “I want to give you $10 to stay on this page!” but I needed my sanity more than $10 so I didn’t bite.

Am I the only one who read that and said Thank Goodness!?

I mean, shouldn’t the Pentagon have a plan ready to execute in case the United States is invaded by enemy forces? Isn’t that what we are paying them for?

After reading articles about what happened on 9/11/2001, I thought it was humiliating that when it initially appeared that major cities were under air attack by an unknown enemy, the only immediate military response we could muster was a couple of unarmed Air National Guard planes that happened to be on a training mission. Yes, I hope the government is now better prepared.

Thanks for the public service! No way was I gonna click on that link.

The same question that can be asked in other contexts must be asked here: Do you suppose there are some who actually believe in all of this? Or is it just bullshit they come up with to support their scam?

I can’t possibly imagine living day-to-day with all this toxic shit percolating inside of me.

Well, good to know that there isn’t any there there. I’ve been hearing and reading these vague warnings so much and for so long, that I started thinking that maybe I’ve been too biased towards Democrats and the current administration, and maybe there really was something scary out there that I just didn’t know about!

I don’t think that racism is a primary factor. These same sorts of wild the-sky-is-falling conspiracy theories were around with Bush and Clinton.

I don’t know- the people I know that are racist are the primary ones doing this. I don’t remember all of this hysteria when G.W.B. was president, but then I wasn’t on Facebook and I didn’t pay as much attention to politics then, so maybe.