Most Americans solely know one phrase from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural handle. But the whole sentence speaks volumes about the place America is in 2021: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The technique has labored: Americans have by no means been extra fearful or much less patriotic. And this unreasoning, unjustified terror is paralyzing efforts to rebuild our economic system, enhance race relations and unite our nation.
Let’s begin with COVID. Hospitalization rates are between simply 1 p.c and 5 p.c, however a March Gallup ballot revealed that 41 p.c of Democrats thought the determine was at the very least 50 p.c, and one other 28 p.c thought it was between 20 p.c and 49 p.c. Even 51 p.c of Republicans thought the determine was at the very least 20 p.c.
Respondents additionally overestimated the share of COVID-19 deaths from individuals aged 24 and youthful, placing it at 8 p.c, when it’s simply 0.1 p.c.
A latest Morning Consult ballot revealed that many Americans, notably those that have already been vaccinated, nonetheless stay in a state of perpetual COVID anxiety. Less than half of the vaccinated cohort felt snug renting a automobile, socializing in public, worshipping in a church, flying or happening a date.
The Centers for Disease Control have now eased mask restrictions for the vaccinated, however some who as soon as preached “Listen to the experts” aren’t blissful about it. The New York Times not too long ago profiled Joe Glickman, a vaccinated photographer from Albany who has been carrying goggles, an N95 masks, plus a material masks on high of it when he outlets and plans to proceed for “at least the next five years.”
Others who’re vaccinated nonetheless have sex with masks on. A girl figuring out herself as “Maskless and Alone” complained to Slate that her husband was so afraid of catching COVID that he wears a masks 24 hours a day, even whereas he eats, sleeps and makes love.
At the identical time the media, left-leaning politicians and different neurotic elites have stoked wildly disproportionate and irrational fears of police and white supremacists, damaging race relations within the course of. Michelle Obama, who lives in a 30-acre, $11.75 million oceanfront compound on Martha’s Vineyard (which is 96 p.c white), recently described her fear of racist police to “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King.
“[M]any of us still live in fear as we go to the grocery store or worry about walking our dogs or allowing our children to get a license,” she stated. “The innocent act of getting a license puts fear in our hearts.”
If the Obamas declare to be this fearful, think about how terrified different blacks ought to be, proper? And, in fact, as a result of the police can’t be blamed for every thing, the left has additionally hyped the white-supremacy risk past all rational comprehension, selling small, marginal teams just like the Boogaloos and the Proud Boys as in the event that they’re the brand new ISIS or al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, doomsday progressives inflate the climate-change risk, typically scaring the daylights out of their very own youngsters within the course of. California Rep. Katie Porter not too long ago requested Greta Thunberg for recommendation on how to console her 9-year-old daughter, who fears that the “earth is on fire and we’re all going to die soon.” Can anybody doubt the place she acquired that concept from?
The left has used all these fears to crack down on dissenting speech. One now dangers being canceled (or “vaporized,” as George Orwell put it in “1984”) for a variety of thought crimes. Fearful Americans digest information by way of data silos and aren’t uncovered to data which may make them extra hopeful, not nearly COVID, local weather change or race relations, however about America itself.
FDR’s memorable line about fearing “fear itself” might have come from Henry David Thoreau, who additionally stated, “Fear creates danger and courage dispels it.” Those are phrases we should always all stay by proper now.
Dave Seminara is the writer of “Mad Travelers: A Tale of Wanderlust, Greed and the Quest to Reach the Ends of the Earth.”