03 March 2015

Soul mates and the politics of fear

Fabricating a threat to the nation in order to instill fear in the population may be demagoguery, but it is also a highly effective way for leaders to rally the people behind them. Frightened citizens turn conservative and cling to what they know, i.e. the incumbent government, rather than risk change. Politicians understand this very well and, in dictatorships and democracies alike, have been exploiting it ever since politics was invented.

We are currently witnessing two unpopular national leaders, both facing elections this year that threaten defeat, resorting to this ancient but proven strategy. I refer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his soul mate, our very own Stephen Harper.

Harper is building his game plan around terrorism. The chance of a Canadian being harmed by a terrorist attack in this country is absolutely remote, but the PM isn't allowing that tidy little fact to deter him. The latest salvo in his war on terror is Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. This omnibus of an effort has been excoriated by a host of legal experts for its excessive intrusion on civil liberties and its lack of oversight. In true demagogic fashion, opponents of the legislation are subjected to the usual accusations of treason. “Now is not the time for the NDP agenda of attacking the police and the security agencies,” Mr. Harper said. “Now is the time to take on terrorists.” Considering that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s son is a cop, I doubt attacking the police is high on the party's agenda.

Netanyahu is founding his fear-mongering on Iran's purported effort to create a nuclear weapon. He is currently bringing his crusade to the U.S., a crusade that isn't limited to the truth. His own intelligence agency, Mossad, told him Iran wasn't performing the activities necessary to produce nuclear weapons, but that didn't prevent him going to the United Nations and doing a Colin Powell. Using a bomb cartoon and a red marker, he patiently explained to the General Assembly that Iran was nearing completion of a bomb. Apparently Mossad was not amused.

So will the demagoguery work? In the case of Israel, we shall soon see—the election is on St. Patrick's Day. As for how effectively Harper has frightened Canadians, we will have to wait until the fall.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Harpers fear mongering will work this time Bill. The criticism of bill C-51 is starting to work against him. His base will always vote for him, but I think the majority of Canadians are tired of him. We'll see on election day.