Researchers have noticed this when studying the reactions of liberals and conservatives to negative stimuli. The liberals don't react as much as the conservatives do:
Are conservatives ‘hardwired’ to perceive threats?
Research with emotion-generating images suggest that liberals and conservatives are hardwired to see the world differently.
...“Conservatives are fond of saying that ‘liberals just don’t get it,’ and liberals are convinced that conservatives magnify threats"
the target article...summarizes a wide swath of literature showing that conservatives are more attuned to threats in their environments than liberals are.
And also this:
“That some people are more attuned to potential threats, more sensitive to sources of contagion, and more desirous of in-group protections is known intuitively and amply demonstrated by a large research literature,” and this variation in heightened negativity bias is significantly correlated with conservatism.
So it is recognised in the research that conservatives are better at recognising potential threats than are liberals. Therefore, liberals see us as magnifying threats whilst we see liberals as being clueless about the risks to one's own group from hostile or self-interested outsiders, or to a decline in the culture and institutions of society, or even to the longer term dissolution of the group itself.
Enter Stefan Kuzmany, a liberal journalist from Berlin. In October of last year he wrote an article for Der Spiegel, criticising the Alternative für Deutschland (Afd), a patriotic party:
No coalition is possible with the AfD. Because they live in a displaced reality.
It must be terrible to live in these conditions: foreign bands rule the big cities, sell drugs, grope children in public pools, stalk women on their nightly walks, subvert and destroy the local culture, and whoever says something against it has to fear state repression and loss of job. The politicians don't care about the concerns of the people, the bigwigs live high on the hog, while a controlled media deceives the masses and keeps things quiet until the project of the ultimate disenfranchisement and final eradication of the Germans through mass immigration is completed.
It is no wonder that people become angry on account of this very threatening situation, go onto the streets and feel called to do something themselves to help save the fatherland....
It seems - and here lies the problem with the "concerned citizens"... they apparently live in a different country than the majority of Germans. If you heard the talk of the AfD co-chairwoman Frauke Petry on the Day of German Unity you would think you had entered a bizarre parallel universe...
Germany must, says Petry, literally be reconquered: "We must give back pride and identity to the people. We must therefore turn back the spirit of the times (the Zeitgeist).
A minority of the losers of modernisation would therefore like to set back the clocks in Germany...
Best to pity them, as prisoners of their irrational horror image of the demise of the homeland, as prisoners of their fear.
I've quoted this at length because it shows an aspect of the liberal mindset. According to Stefan Kuzmany there is no real threat. It is all in the imagination, it is "a bizarre parallel universe". To recognise a threat is to have fear. Modernisation is, for him, necessarily a good thing, even if there are losers from it.
Equally, of course, I wonder at his take on the situation. If you add a million young Middle-Eastern men to Germany's population each year, then it just seems logical that the existing German population (those who are ethnically German) will form an ever declining part of the population, until the point is reached that they won't form a distinct people. They will no longer have a sense of living in a homeland of their own. Somehow the logic of this just cannot penetrate Stefan Kuzmany's liberal mind. He cannot perceive a real threat, a future loss.
Anyway, reality caught up with Stefan Kuzmany at Christmas, when a refugee drove a truck into a group of revellers in Berlin, killing twelve and injuring 56. How did Stefan Kuzmany respond? He explained his reaction as follows:
There must be something wrong with me. It's probably something with my head -- or my heart. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper, which acts as a barometer of German public sentiment, says on its front page that I should feel "Fear!" But I can feel no fear.
Anis Amri, the suspected attacker -- who is believed to have murdered a truck driver and 12 people at the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, and injured many more on Monday night -- is still at large and is presumed to be armed. Even that triggers no emotions in me, except the sincere hope that he will soon be caught and locked up for the rest of his miserable days. But fear? Maybe I'd be afraid if I had the bad luck of running into him.
Perhaps I'm no longer normal. I think it's terrible that 12 people had to die at the Christmas market, each of them too early and each one a senseless death. But even though the attack took place in Berlin, the city where I have lived for almost 15 years, the horror still feels abstract to me, as if it had all happened in a faraway country. It would be different, of course, if it had happened to someone I know personally, a friend or a family member.
A few days before the attack, my wife and I were saying that we should stop by that Christmas market after work, with our son. I shudder when I think that we too could have been standing there when the truck slammed into the crowd. But I don't think about it for long. We weren't there. What's the point of imagining that we were? I have other things to do.
Is that cold? Maybe. But it's just the way it is.
This is what the Berlin terrorist has achieved. He has made me indifferent. He evokes no feelings in me...I have no room in my thoughts for him and his ilk.
...If someone wants to drive a truck into a crowd, there is nothing to stop him from finding a truck and a mass of people. The only thing we could do is shut everything down completely: no more Christmas markets, no more public events at all and we'd best all stay at home and lock our doors. The result of this is that we would have an increasingly closed society rather than the open one that we enjoy today.
Something isn't quite right with me...
Maybe I'll go out later and drink some Glühwein. Go ahead and call me crazy. But maybe it's just the world that has gone crazy.
Kuzmany refuses to feel fear. And so he feels indifference. He closes off his mind and emotions to a part of reality that he doesn't wish to recognise. It could have been him, his wife and his child who died in the terror attack. But he won't think about it. It's not to be thought about. The problem is not, he thinks, with his "open" society (open to all, including terrorists), but that the world has gone crazy. It is the world that has failed - reality hasn't lived up to his ideals.