Barack Obama delivered his version of a fireside chat last week with an inelegant, dredged-up version of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 “nothing to fear but fear itself” mantra.
Of course, with the U.S. mired in a Great Depression and on the brink of World War II, there was plenty to fear then. Much of the country was out of work. Millions were about to be uprooted from their homes and be put to death because of their faith. The world was facing conquest by tyrannical madmen.
Roosevelt’s talk didn’t end the economic calamity he inherited. In fact, it got worse – much worse. It didn’t address the Nazi march or deal with the looming threats to world stability and security.
And neither will Obama’s less-than-empty words.
But that’s not what bothers me about what Obama said.
What bothers me is the fact that he stokes more patently unnecessary fear than any president in memory. It was like listening to the biggest fear-monger in history suddenly tell us we had nothing to fear from real, bona fide threats to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What do I mean?
Hasn’t it been Obama fear-mongering about the “climate change,” something he characterizes as “the gravest threat to world security”?
How about other phantom bugaboos?
Let’s make a list:
- The symbol represented by the Confederate flag;
- Republicans and conservatives, whom he clearly deems more evil and more threatening to peace, prosperity and tranquility than ISIS;
- Any display anywhere of “homophobia” or “Islamophobia” – no matter real or imagined;
- Any display of racism – except, of course, his preferred brand of preferential racism;
- Christians, returning war veterans and any groups or individuals with whom he disagrees;
- Guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens;
- Skeptics of big government, or, as I like to call it, “unlimited government”;
- Constitution lovers;
- Domestic political opposition;
- Donald Trump;
- Rush Limbaugh;
- The alternative media;
- Matt Drudge;
- Syria’s President Bashar Assad, whom he wanted to bomb rather than ISIS, which is trying to overthrow his regime;
- Vladimir Putin;
- Free markets;
- Liberty generally;
- Police he doesn’t personally control;
- Anyone who criticizes him or his policies;
Should I go on?
Here’s what Obama actually said: “Groups like ISIL cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us at home – against soft targets, against civilians, against innocent people. Even as we’re vigilant, we cannot, and we will not, subcumb (sic) to fear. Nor can we allow fear to divide us – for that’s how terrorists win. We cannot give them the victory of changing how we go about living our lives.”
I don’t know if the “subcumb” was a Teleprompter glitch or a Freudian slip.
Was he about to say “we cannot submit to fear” and switched verbal gears in a split second? Is succumb not in his vocabulary? Did he misread the word and place the “b” in the wrong place?
I don’t know. I do know that the actual meaning of the word “Islam” is submission. Is that significant? Or am I reading too much into a simple verbal gaffe?
But what’s ever-so-striking about this message is the last part of his statement: “Nor can we allow fear to divide us – for that’s how terrorists win. We cannot give them the victory of changing how we go about living our lives.”
Obama uses fear to divide Americans more than any individual I know. He is without a doubt the most divisive president in recent American history.
Being lectured by a divisive fear-monger about unity is a little like being condescended to on the subject of sexual harassment by Bill or Hillary Clinton.
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