“Fear Sells” – Bassem Yousef speaking at Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum


Fear sells. Fear Works. Fear makes you get away with anything. And when people are afraid they will not accept logic, let alone satire.  Fear can drive the masses. Fear can turn them into ruthless organisms devoid of human mercy and intellectual logic. Fear can drive humans to give up the best ever human trait – humanity. Under fear they accept taking away their rights to object, to oppose and even applaud taking away other peoples rights. Under fear, fascism becomes coveted, and human rights becomes an indecent word. Our job was to expose those irrational fears – to dissect through the unfair use of such basic human instinct in order to give up basic human rights and needs.

This might sound strange, but again let me remind you, that fear sells, fear delivers, fear is much, much more stronger.  Fear might be the greatest mover of masses ever. You have experienced this during your history – the world has experienced Nazism, Fascism, MacCarthyism – all were movements that used fear and phobia and empty viscious rhetoric in order to control the masses. Sixty years later and those techniques are still valid.

We saw how the world’s most advanced democratic countries used fear to drag the whole world into war, like the Bush years in America. Their main weapon was not state-of-the-art aircraft carriers or stealth fighters, but good old National Scare fear. Fear is the favorite weapon of all democratic countries, autocratic countries, nationalist states, and terrorist groups. It’s the favorite brand of all.

Fear sells, fear works, and fear is a winner. Satire and comedy might be one of the very few antidotes against fear. It liberates your mind – it sets your judgement free. And that is why it is a threat, and that is why people who use satire will be alienated, marginalized, and even scared off. It doesn’t matter if it’s a government who thinks it’s closer to God than you, or a regime that thinks they are more Patriotic than you. You as a satirist have no place in the world.  It is a world where fascism is celebrated, and where fear rules. But satire comes to destruct such an equation. Because when you laugh, you cannot be afraid anymore.  And thus, the system will work to eliminate that weapon of laughter, in order for fear to set in.

But maybe there is a small beacon of hope. Maybe change will come from the most unexpected of places. The world today is a young world. Youth are connected now more than ever. The internet and the open skies offers an opportunity that was not there many years ago, when regimes can get away with anything. When we started on the internet 3 years ago, we might be at that time the only one in our country who did that with such a unique idea and format.

But now the internet is full of young people coming up every single day to combat fear, intimidation, and media deception. We were too big to be allowed to continue, but by the time we were banned, the change has already happened. Stopping the show might be viewed as a sad ending, but we would like to look at that as a new beginning. We have inspired a whole generation to go out there and express themselves in their own way. The old techniques of the 40s and 50s won’t cut it with those youngsters. The propaganda that worked for their parent’s generation won’t be able to control them anymore. The plethora of fascism that plagues certain regions on the planet right now is only a temporary, transient moment of time that will soon be washed away by the upcoming generation.

Facts seem now overwhelming that the long-coveted freedom is stillborn. But that is not true, as Bevin once said, fascism is not a new order of society, it is the future refusing to be born. But I tell you that the future is already here. It is just warming up. So fear might sell, fear might work, and fear might win, but it will eventually face its defeat. And the battlefield for that glorious victory will be none other than the hearts and minds of vibrant, inspired young people who will not give in to fear.

(transcribed from Democracy Now! )




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