I always found the term “fear-monger” to be a tell about the person using it.
A person who mongers is, using the traditional definition, a dealer or a trader who sells a finite set of commodities. The second connotation goes this way:
[the promotion of] a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable.
Many recall that Senator John McCain (R-AZ), during his 2008 campaign for the presidency, (in)famously stated the following at a townhall meeting:
I want to be president of the United States, and I don’t want Obama to be. But I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared [of] as President of the United States.
Six years, many violations of the US Constitution, wars, pestilence and the rumors thereof later, we find that Senator McCain was…right.
The intentional actions of the Obama Administration pose grave threats to our personal survival and our survival as a nation–but we don’t have to be afraid of them. By that, I mean that we don’t have be paralyzed by fear–the overwhelming sense that there is nothing that we can do to thwart our destruction.
A counter-example: many believe–and I am among this number–that members of our legislative and judicial branches are afraid to take meaningful steps to rein in the executive branch. Afraid of what? Only they know for certain. But, assuming the belief is correct, that unnamed fear has immobilized the other two branches. And, as a result, this country has suffered outrage after outrage.
So, Senator McCain was correct, though probably not in the manner he intended.
Back to fear mongering, or the allegation thereof. When you try to warn someone of a reasonably-calculated possible danger and that person calls you a fear-monger, she does it in order avoid acknowledging her own fear. Acknowledging fear is the first step in getting past it and acting decisively in the face of it, armed with the truth–for starters. Rather than do that very tough work, such a person would prefer that you shut up. But, the truth is that they are buying what you are not selling. We know who the salesman is.
And on that note, I find myself praying often, that certain people act decisively in the face of legitimate fear. May it be an ironic beginning.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!