Sunday, April 12, 2009

All fear, all the time

And on the All Fear Channel, yet more things to be afraid of! For those of you who are older than me: When did America become a nation of bedwetters cowering in fear of everyone and everything? Just curious, because it happened before I was old enough to really notice, so only someone older than me would have noticed it...

-- Badtux the Fear Penguin


  1. I'm not really certain when it started; it may have begun during the national soul-searching after Vietnam, so we may fix the year at 1975.

    People started to wonder if we had overreached, if our loss in Southeast Asia was a sign that things were no longer going our way, that things were out of our control. Uncertainty can generate fear, you know.

    And power came to those who could play on that fear, and could offer some kind of comforting palliative that would make us feel that Things Would Go Our Way again.

    But fear requires a focus if the manipulators of fear can profit from the fearful. So foci are selected and demonized. The supremacy of the Soviet Union has given way to the specter of hordes of Scary Terrorist Demons.

    Can we get out of this cycle of fear? Dunno.

  2. I think it started earlier then Walt thinks. I believe it may have started sometime during the "Red Scare" of the '50's.

  3. I'm with Granpa Eddie , my Mom was of the "fearfull" generation , and she lived with the "Red Menace" after making it past ww2 .
    I too grew up with drop and cover or whatever the cute name was for "kiss you ass goodbye" but my Dad was a calming influence and I grew up without the constant fearfullness . Very sad that fear prevails in such a publicised way today . I'd have figured most of those old fearmongers had died off by now , the infection lives on though .
    a saddened w3ski

  4. w3ski,

    Duck and Cover. I have no idea why Americans are so cowardly, or simply disinterested.

    FEAR certainly sells. We are afraid of microbes, wrinkles, plastic, Terrorists, bedbugs (which behave like terrorists), etc. etc.

    If we took the "Don't worry, be happy" stance, we'd be Jamaica or something.

  5. Yes.
    But then there's Father Coughlin in the thirties who taught Rush a thing or three.
    Before that there were the various groups who picked America First, at the expense of everyone different. and back to this group, and that group, and the Rail roads. (They subverted the American Revolution in 1870 or so when they got a tiny illegitimate wedge into the 14th amendment thorough an editorial remark on the Santa Clara case. In which they were refusing to pay taxes.)
    But then there was the British Monarchy and the Spanish Monarchy and the Church and the
    Roman Empire and, oh yeah, Why do you think Hammurabi issued his code? if not to disarm the bullies?

    It is why the quote is pertinent.
    "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
    Boy have we fallen down on the job.

  6. What am I supposed to be afraid of?!? There's no linky! Please tell me, Badtux -- I'm feeling unnaturally confident, and that MUST be wrong!

    I'm with Grandpa Eddie on the Red Scare too. (As I'm typing this, the Air America Radio broadcast by Mike Papantonio that I'm listening to just said "If there's one thing the GOP is good at, it's creating fear.") Emphasis on the "scare." Frightened people are easier to control.

    There have been fear campaigns throughout American history (and certainly through the histories of all societies.) Fear the savage Indians who will scalp you and eat your cows! Fear the black slaves, who will rise up against the white race and cut your throat as you sleep! Fear the communists in the labour unions! Fear the Irish/Italian/Chinese immigrants with their diseases and strange languages!

    In the old days, the fear was used as an excuse for killing. See the Know-Nothings, KKK, Henry Ford's company goons. But around the 1950s, the fear-mongers started employing fear as a method to further their own ends, especially the financial ones. The military-industrial complex couldn't have gotten so rich if they hadn't stoked fear into a support for missile programs, nuclear submarines, etc.

    I don't know whether it was calculated out from a psychological standpoint, or if it was just an instinctive reaction by the forces of the Reich. I don't believe the fascists are organised at a deep enough level to pull off a grand design like that, but they're cunning like throat-biting weasels, so they know how to react.

    It also helps that Americans are mostly comfortable. If you've got a cushy life -- electricity, running water, homes with heating, reliable food supplies -- you're going to be afraid of losing it. You don't have the hard edge of deprivation to make you see what's really to be feared. After a couple of generations of that, you're soft and easily scared.

    I compare the fear that stalks American society with the attitude prevalent during World War II. There was some nastiness born of fear back then -- witness the concentration camps Americans put Japanese into. But overall, society "manned up" and fought back against some truly scary forces. I think if a new Osama Hitler takes control of large swathes of the planet, Americans will turn on each other, saying "YOU LIKE THAT GUY! IT'S YOUR FAULT."

    Shit, here I am ranting about Americans again. I'm only a little older than Badtux, Grandpa Eddie, but I'm sounding like the crazy old coot yelling "Hey you little bastards, get offa my lawn!"

  7. I'm not certain when it happened. but then, I may not have been paying close attention. I think it was one of those gradual things, that it never made a real deep impression until we ended up with the homeland security being crammed down our throats.


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