‘The fear of fear itself’

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017


In keeping with the editorial maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads,” The Herald’s headline for March 8 was, “Man shot in attempted robbery.”

Further down, in smaller type (but commendably still on the front page) was another story titled, “Crime rates are down.”

Too often the more sensational specific instance of a crime obscures the statistical likelihood of its reoccurrence, and we become unnecessarily alarmed that violence seems rampant.

But when a U.S. President falsely claims, “The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years,” while we are actually in a period of record lows, something else is at work.

Such a lie, made no less false through repetition, is intended to manipulate the public.

We may start treating our neighbors with suspicion, mistrusting strangers in our community and worrying excessively for our children.

This is what the late Franklin D. Roosevelt called the fear of fear itself, and it can infect how we live day to day.

It can make us more accepting of travel bans, of building walls and of turning our backs on the immigrants that are part of what made America great.

David Lewis