In 2017, as in 2016, the most-watched cable channel has been Fox News. The bigotry of many of their talking heads never fails to astound me, but the fact that they speak to the fears of American citizens is the reason they are watched and listened to.
Fear has always been a powerful motivator for the despots of society. Adolf Hitler used this truth to devastating effect in Germany, long before the Internet. Propaganda is a tool that, in the wrong hands, can turn the public’s minds away from rationality to emotionally-fueled hatred and dangerous, inward-thinking nationalism. Mein Kampf is only one example.
Freedom of information is, however, critical to the spread of hope as well as fear. Barack Obama used this truth to his advantage in both of his presidential races. As much as I agree with Hillary Clinton’s politics, I cannot deny that the perception of scandal present in her campaign did not instill hope — instead, it instilled distrust and a sense of wary apprehension. Compound that distrust with the “fear of the other” instilled by Donald Trump and it’s not difficult to ascertain why the country gave way to dangerous nationalism in its presidential office.
The Internet may be a tool of the vile nationalist agenda, but it is also a tool of the loving and caring social agenda. And by restricting the Internet’s usage to only those perceived as open-minded, we are closing our minds, and giving in to the very same power of fear used so effectively by our adversaries.
And as a wise Jedi master once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I cannot think of a time when those words were more important than in today’s political clime.