On Tuesday evening, Arianna Huffington was the latest to opine on the CBS Evening News segment “Free Speech.” Huffington charged the GOP with using “fear mongering” during recent election seasons.
Ever since 9/11, "be afraid" has been their No. 1 talking point. They sold us on invading Iraq with warnings from Condoleezza Rice that the "smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud" and dire predictions from Bush and Cheney about all the ways Saddam could rain death and destruction on us. And it's remarkable how the terror rhetoric always seems to hit Red just before elections.
Well, in case you haven’t noticed Ari we did lose hundreds of Americans to terror attacks all across the world even before 9/11/01.
-1992-93: The “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu, Somalia where eighteen Americans were killed, 73 wounded. It has been argued that this particular conflict emboldened Al-Qaeda since the United States did not retaliate.
-1993: The first attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Six deaths, over 1000 injuries.
-1996: The Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Nineteen killed, approximately 200 injured.
-1998: US Embassy bombings. 257 killed, over 4,000 injured.
-2000: USS Cole bombing in Yemen. Seventeen killed, 39 injured.
Given that history lesson, I proclaim the fear mongering charge as absurd on its face. We should look at the “terror rhetoric” as a stern reminder of an enemy who readily exists and will stop at nothing to destroy our way of life. That said, why shouldn’t we support those who actually consider national security a top priority?
Now, you want examples of fear mongering? Let us look left.
-Actor Michael J. Fox decides to insert himself in the Senate race in the state of Missouri. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease and supports stem-cell research, spoke in a TV ad on behalf of Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill. In the ad, Fox does not even attempt to hide the symptoms of his disease. He went on to say that he believes stem-cell research could bring help in curing Parkinson’s and emphasizes that McCaskill "shares my hope for cures." On the other hand, according to Fox, incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent is against such research and "even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope."
Of course, there’s no clarification. Talent opposes embryonic stem-cell research, believing that left over embryos are indeed living organisms and should not be desecrated.
You want to talk about instilling fear, Ari? How about a shameless TV ad implying that a vote for Senator Talent is a vote for elongating the suffering of Parkinson’s victims?
-What about the flat-out deceitful TV spot offered up by Patty Wetterling, Democratic candidate in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district?
In a despicable exploitation of the Rep. Mark Foley scandal, Wetterling, a prominent children’s rights advocate, broadcast an ad which said “Congressional leaders have admitted to covering up the predatory behavior of a Congressman (Foley) who used the internet to molest children.” A bald-face lie! Admissions to a cover-up NEVER occurred.
The ad continued:
"For over a year, they knowingly ignored the welfare of children to protect their own power. For 17 years, Patty Wetterling has fought for tougher penalties against those who harm children. That's why she's demanding a criminal investigation and the immediate expulsion of any congressman involved in this crime and coverup."
The message here is clear: If you don’t support Patty Wetterling you are putting children in harm’s way.
Meanwhile, Huffington concluded her appearance on CBS with this:
To quote FDR, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And those who use it for their own political purposes.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
UPDATE: Babs Streisand piles on with "fear mongering" charge.