In her book, Freedom from Fear, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi wrote, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” How fear is used for power was explained by Michael Crichton, in his book State of Fear, when he succulently wrote, “Social control is best managed through fear.” Clearly, it cannot be doubted that control is created by having social and/or political power. It is a lesson Donald Trump learned from his father and exploits today.
Donald Trump’s father was Fred Trump. There have been questions whether Fred Trump was a member of the KKK. Horowitz, Jason, “First Draft: In Interview, Donald Trump Denies Report of Father’s Arrest in 1927”. The New York Times (September 22, 2015). Interestingly, folk singing legend Woody Guthrie, was a tenant in one of Trump’s apartment complexes in Brooklyn. Guthrie criticized Trump as a landlord. He wrote lyrics that accused his landlord of stirring up racial hate “in the bloodpot of human hearts”. Control by fear was a principle therefore not foreign to the Trump family household.
Donald Trump is no different than his father. Very early on Trump specifically spoke to people how the whole system was rigged and it would have to be destroyed. But perhaps there is no better example of Trump’s fear mongering than his attack on immigrants (by the way, did you know Trump was likely not conceived in America?). Trump has said overtly immigrants cause crime. Trump said, “[C]ountless Americans who have died in recent years would be alive today if not for the open border policies of this administration.” That is simply not true. Numerous studies , over the years, have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. As the Police Foundation has indicated, there simply is no documented evidence for the proposition that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime.
But who cares about the facts? Causing fear controls people. One study of fear as a control explained it directly: (a) fear appeals are effective at positively influencing attitude, intentions, and behaviors; (b) there are very few circumstances under which they are not effective; and (c) there are no identified circumstances under which they backfire and lead to undesirable outcomes.
An article in The Atlantic perfectly summarizes Trump’s appeal to fear. “I’m scared,” a 12-year-old girl told Trump at a campaign rally in North Carolina. “What are you going to do to protect this country? “You know what, darling?” Trump replied. “You’re not going to be scared anymore. They’re going to be scared.”