The Corner

The Uses of Fear

I keep reading that opponents of the immigration bill are playing to people’s fears and ”trying to frighten our citizens.” You hear this kind of dismissal of “the politics of fear” in debates about other issues, too. But isn’t it pretty dumb? We have the capacity for fear for a reason, after all. It keeps us from doing stupid things, such as overlooking serious dangers. A species without fear wouldn’t last very long. If you think that a bill is, on balance, bad, presumably it’s because you fear that it would have negative consequences for the country. And if other people don’t see what you do, then presumably you should try to get them to share your fears, which is to say, to frighten them.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

The Latest