From the Right



The Salem Witch Trials and Nazis' Fear of Jews Can Help Us Understand Where We Are Today

Dennis Prager on

The most famous words of Franklin Roosevelt, America's longest-serving president, were, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

One wonders if any world leader would or could say that today. We live in the Age of Fear.

All of my life, I thought love and hate were the two most powerful human emotions.

But owing to recent events, I have changed my mind.

I now understand that for most people, fear is the strongest emotion.

In fact, I've come to realize that it is possible to get people to do anything if you instill enough fear in them. Specifically, irrational fear.


Fear of COVID-19, for example, is rational. But media and governments induced irrational fears. That's why millions of healthy people stayed indoors for a year or more, why a vast number of people wore masks while walking or sitting alone outdoors, and why so many parents did not allow their young children to play with other children for a year or more, even though the COVID-19 mortality rate among children was considerably less than the flu's mortality rate among children.

All of this was caused by irrational fear. It turns out that fear is not only more powerful than love and hate; in most people it is more powerful than reason. And when it is, it is far more destructive -- to the individual and to society -- than rational fear.

What is rational fear? When a soldier fears going into battle, that is rational. Soldiers cannot allow fear to control their behavior, but their fear is not irrational. If a mugger points a gun at you, it is rational to feel fear. If you are diagnosed with cancer, it is rational to experience fear.

Rational fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It is irrational fear that does the most harm -- to yourself, to others and to all of society.


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Monte Wolverton Steve Sack Marshall Ramsey Milt Priggee Dana Summers Scott Stantis