OpEdNews Op Eds

Get a Grip, America! It's Dangerous for a People to be Ruled By Fear

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Become a Fan
  (32 fans)
I had a conversation with a friend the other day that may offer a glimpse into a piece of why it is that the Bush regime has been able to destroy so much of what's best about America.

One of us was fussing with an unopened food container with unusually resistant tamper-proof packaging, and that led to our recalling how it is that all the food and drug containers in this country came to encumbered with such strips and tabs, etc., in order to assure us that no one had violated the pristine purity of the contents since the product had left the factory.

It was back in the early 1980s, and someone (never caught) had laced some Tylenol capsules with cyanide. Several people had died, sales of Tylenol had dried up nationwide, and lo and behold-almost overnight-it had been decided that virtually everything that entered the mouths of American must be packaged in a new, tamper-proof way forevermore.

One incident costing the lives of about one out of every forty million Americans-and our packaging practices were changed forever. More of a hassle, more expensive-but by golly we'd be safer!

Already, more than twenty years ago, we American could be panicked out of all proportion to the threat. The idea that hidden evil-doers might do us harm albeit taking fewer lives than are lost in any given few hours on our roads-was enough to fill the nation with fear.

That recollection prompted my friend and me to remember also how fearfully Americans responded in the 80s and 90s whenever some isolated instance of terrorism would occur in some other part of the world to which Americans might travel as tourists. We recalled how, in the wake of some terrorist explosion in Europe, thousands and thousands of Americans would call up their travel agents and cancel their vacation travel plans.


And then there's the way Halloween trick-or-treating got transformed nationwide by a few stories (almost all of them mere urban legends) about poison or razor blades embedded in the treats.

How did we ever get to be a nation of such scaredy cats? What happened to American courage so that a mathematically negligible probability of any single one of us being harmed would send the society as a whole scurrying for safety?

And here we are, still running scared in the wake of 9/11. Yes, 9/11 was terrible. But even looking just at the Americans who were flying on that very day, less than one-tenth of one percent of all the people who flew on airliners on 9/11 were killed.

In World War II, when American marines stormed onto the beaches of Japanese islands, sometimes a third of those marines would become casualties. But they did their duty. The life-expectancy of a marine landing with a flamethrower mounted on his back was measured in terms of seconds! That's extreme danger.

We're a nation of 300 million people who lost 3,000 on one terrible day. An important occurrence. But what happened to our sense of proportion?

We are a nation that could fight two mighty and populous fascist powers in World War II, and could confront the possibility of sudden nuclear annihilation during that "long twilight struggle" of the Cold War, without overthrowing our constitutional protections nor enthroning an unchecked power in the president nor legitimating torture.

How did we become a nation so ruled by fear?

Yes, the present Bushite leadership, unlike its predecessors, deliberately cultivates fear in the American people. No "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" for this gang. More like "The only thing we want from you is fear itself."

But even before the Bushites started their fear-mongering, Americans were swearing off flying in sufficient numbers to send the airline industry into a swoon. And as the earlier Tylenol episode shows, this American proclivity to fearful overreaction did not begin on 9/11.

It is not good to be the slave of fear. Fear is a solvent of rational thought, of sensible perspective.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Like Colbert? Article Plus Critique

Mel Gibson's Rant as Profound Clue

To Anti-Obamite Lefties: It Doesn't Matter If You're Right

How Important is the Loss of Friendship?

The Mystery of Obama's Relationship with Power

Power and Corruption: Just What Is Their Relationship?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I loved your article. I think it begs the question... by Pappy on Thursday, Oct 5, 2006 at 3:23:52 AM
It's a powerful word, and we should be applying it... by tom baker on Friday, Oct 6, 2006 at 11:22:45 AM
The worst of these cowards are the ones who did no... by Pappy on Saturday, Oct 7, 2006 at 3:46:35 PM