August 4, 2003
"So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we
have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." The
words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his inaugural address, March 4,
1933. It was delivered to a destitute nation suffering from an
unprecedented depression. That advice is always applicable, not just in
times of crisis. Many people are paralyzed by an unreasoning,
unjustified fear of a violent death, the most unlikely causes producing
the greatest of their fears.
An airline trip will distress an individual who worries about an airline disaster. Yet he happily drives recklessly for hours each day in an automobile. Statistics for the year 2000 -- the latest year for which official figures have been disclosed -- indicate that motor vehicle accidents were responsible for 43,354 deaths; the comparable figure for airline deaths was 88. If the comparison is based on distance traveled -- for every billion miles traveled over the five-year period ending in 2000 -- the death rate on the road is 15.9 to 0.14 in the air.
Another worrisome fear is an unwarranted attack from a random, dangerous hoodlum. The 2000 homicide figure of 16,765 is surprisingly less than the suicide number of 28,350, a cause of death that seems exceedingly remote. That homicide statistic includes a high proportion of assaults between family members, friends, and acquaintances, and many homicides occur in the poorer crime-infested areas.
The most recent fear to panic the public -- one that has caught on with many new worrywarts -- is terrorism. WOW! did that have an impact. For quite some time after 9/11 many people suddenly changed their usual activities because of their fears that another terrorist attack would target them. Here again is a category with minimal death counts. Although terrorism is not included in the U.S. health statistics the FBI has tracked deaths caused by terrorists in the US since 1990. The high mark was reached in 2001, the year of 9/11 with a total of 3,047. The previous high was 1995, the year of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, with 169. In no other year did the number exceed six, and in five of those years there were no deaths at all.
Why, why, why are there such unreasoned, unjustified fears?
Perhaps it is the media's overemphasis -- frequency of insertions, placement of items, and size of the stories -- on news events such as airline disasters, crime, terrorism, etc. that shapes such thoughts.
This administration thrives on those fears. Rather than allay fear as Roosevelt did, this administration has exacerbated and exploited it to promote and support its nefarious agenda.
How could a tragedy like 9/11 occur? The 30 billion dollar intelligence agencies were well aware of impending terrorist actions but it seems they goofed. Or did they? Why didn't heads roll? Why were they rewarded with more money?
Foreign governments with far leaner budgets and staffs had notified this government of impending attacks. This government has failed in a primary responsibility -- the protection of its citizenry. But the public irrationally supports this government and its policies; a government and its policies that should arouse their ire and their fears of what the consequences of those actions will be.
Fear gave a green light to the Bush gang to push the country into an ongoing series of wars; to override constitution protections; to raid the public treasury and reward its friends and contributors. It was able to do what it wished, let any opposition be damned.
The supposed 'free press,' a favored inner circle participant, supported them throughout -- again helping to shape public opinion.
The consequences of those roughshod actions are now becoming apparent. With each passing day some new disclosure is piercing the veil of deception that permitted those unconscionable actions. The GIs and their families are bitching. Some formerly loyal members of the press corps are becoming skeptical. And public approval is eroding.
Be prepared. Terrorist attacks will be coming. The fear tactic must be exploited again and again as support keeps dropping.
How long will it take before the public wises up?
· · · · · ·
America the 'beautiful' on Swans
Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).
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