Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The politics of fear

Well, my friend's Spanish nightmare seems to be coming true. Not only did Alberto Contador win the Tour de France again on Sunday, but Alonso, by fair means or foul, won the German Grand Prix and is creeping up the F1 drivers' ranking.... It was a very odd incident, wasn't it, when Ferrari radioed the race leader, Felipe Massa, "Alonso's faster than you... Confirm that you've understood..." It sounded quite sinister! And then he inexplicably slowed down and Alonso slipped past. Then another radio message: "Good lad.... Sorry!" It certainly sounded like a fix. Presumably Alonso has an arrangement with Ferrari that he's their no 1 driver, or maybe they just reckon he's a better bet for winning the championship. A shame for competitive sport.

Radio 4 did an item on the debate about immigration over the Mexican border in the States last night. I was struck by the comment of El Paso local historian, David Romo, about politicians scapegoating immigrants: "They're creating a false portrait that serves their own political interests. It happens that every time an election year comes up they know that creating fear and hysteria about the border will drive a wedge. It's wedge politics at its best. In some ways it's cheap vote-getting, and the pattern just keeps repeating itself.... Hysteria ... is very profitable for politicians. I mean, nothing gets votes like the politics of fear" (The World Tonight, BBC Radio 4 27.7.10).

It struck me as being a) profoundly true in this context, and b) equally transferrable to others. Such as the end of life debate. The euthanasia lobby feeds in to the media scare-stories. 'Palliative care won't work.' Soberly looked at, it's just not true. Watch out for the politics of fear.

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