Summary: Fearful and forgetful make us an easily ruled people. Easily aroused to panic, yet amnesic about it once the news media move to a new threat — so that we never learn. While a pitiful state for a once-great people, we can regain our former sense and skepticism.
“Maybe it will all work out ok, but if you catch Ebola just remember your nice article calling anyone concerned chicken little as your lungs fill with fluid, and you’re shitting and vomiting blood.”
— By Sam, October 14. One of the many terrified commenters, fruit of conservatives’ fear-mongering about Ebola — immediately forgotten after the election.
A few months ago we quaked in fear about Ebola (see John B. Judis’ in The New Republic: “Ebola and ISIS Are Making American Voters Go Crazy. Here’s How Irrational Fears Shape Elections.“), about the horde of immigrants flooding in from Latin America, and about the campus rape epidemic (1 in 5 coeds raped!). America was a nation of wet pants. Suddenly these threats are gone, replaced by new ones about which we’re just as irrationally frightened (Yemen!).
Best of all, from our leaders’ perspective, we forget the stories about the previous threats and so eagerly believe the new ones. I watch these transitions with astonishment.
All peoples have manias, of different kinds. Today in America it’s their magnitude and frequency which makes our politics so dysfunctional. While we run screaming in terror at each new phantom, our elites quietly build a New America on the ruins of the old.