Comments from The Outpost

Fear Factors

October 4, 2002

by Dan Murphy

Good evening.

One of the better of our former presidents is well known for having said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." His phrasing is familiar, but he didn't originate the thought. Philosophers have been saying the same sort of thing for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

You can bet our current president would not say anything like that, however. On the contrary, his entire leadership style seems to be based on fear and paranoia, going all the way back to the campaign when he was spreading gloom and doom about the economy. I'm not saying that Dubya by himself caused our current economic weakness, but his nay-saying sure seemed to help start a long downhill trend.

Before September 11, the administration's favorite fear factors were kiddie-porn peddlers and drug users, including AIDS and cancer patients who needed to be locked in jail lest they threaten society by using referendum-approved medical marijuana to treat their symptoms.

Now, fear of terrorists in our midst is a dream come true for those who never much understood the Bill of Rights in the first place and now find a thousand reasons to ignore, sidestep, and abrogate individual liberties.

The Bushies now have a fertile ground in which to sow their seeds of fear. Since September 11, it has been practically impossible to say anything moderate about those events lest we appear unpatriotic or uncompassionate. This one-sided and unquestioning attitude is just building and maintaining a climate of fear, and it is time to stop this perverse form of political correctness.

Terrible as the September 11 attacks were, it was not the worst thing that ever happened in the world or to the United States. The loss of life was tragic, but 5 times as many people are killed in auto accidents each and every year. We were shocked at the cold brutality of this terrorist enemy, but our fear of further destruction should be tempered by the knowledge that this enemy is small in number, and has no army, navy, or air force at its command.

No, the damage to our nation in the time since the buildings fell on September 11, 2001 has not been caused by terrorists, but rather by fear of terrorists. What damage, you ask? How about the millions of hours lost to stupid and futile alleged security procedures? How about the erosion of legal safeguards that are the foundations of our freedom? How about the rush to launch a preemptive war against Iraq, claiming it's actually the same as Al Qaida?

Fear is the real enemy, as FDR said. And ironically, one of the country's leading fear mongers sits in the very office from which he made that statement.

For this week, that's the view from the Outpost. Check out these and other comments from the Outpost on the web at For WMBR, this is Dan Murphy

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