Conservatives think every stranger is a threat. Liberals think every stranger is an idiot.

Bernie Bleske
8 min readDec 1, 2022

One is much worse.

Photo by Elaine Howlin on Unsplash

It’s not an accusation to say that conservative media and politicians emphasize fear. Nor is it a crime that FOX News and other largely conservative media sites lean towards fear in their reporting. The purpose of news, after all, is to inform, and what information is more necessary than threats? Illegal immigrants really do get jobs, crime certainly exists, and unclear powers limit freedoms. One way to think of conservatism’s commitment to the traditions of the past, to resisting change, to holding fast to faith and authority, is that these are reasonable responses to an unknown and dangerous future.

On the other hand, liberal media traffics in a more subtle emotion. Contempt. It’s hard to deny that this is an accusation, so I won’t. Unlike fear, which admits it’s an emotion, contempt pretends otherwise. Fear says ‘The facts make me emotional.’ Contempt claims, ‘The facts make me smarter than you.’ And whatever measures we apply to intelligence, emotion is rarely one of them.

When liberal media — or rather, the majority mainstream media in general — features fear, it’s most often presented as a fact, one demanding ‘smart’ choices rather than emotional reaction. And it’s less often about a person or people and more often about an idea or thing. If the Right fears immigrants taking jobs and money, the Left fears faceless corporate profits doing the same. If the Right fears criminals, the Left sees the threat in broken institutions of justice. But the differences are deeper, because contempt has a difficult time even acknowledging fear, and so the Left’s media rarely addresses the Right’s concerns as sincere or meaningful, and instead opts for the superior tone of the adult explaining truth to the ignorant.

We are where we are today partly because the Left’s contempt loses to the Right’s fear. Not merely because contempt can’t conquer fear (though it rarely does), but because contempt makes enemies of the fearful.

If you’ve ever had to comfort a terrified child, you know that facts and logic don’t work. It doesn’t matter that monsters don’t exist, or that the pain of a shot is quick and necessary, or that the bad dream is all imagination. You, the adult…