It must be something in the Zeitgeist

Following my last post on the Politics of Fear , I found two excellent related pieces. The first from the right leaning Cato Institute , �A False Sense of Insecurity?� by John Mueller (in PDF format); the second in the liberal Guardian, �The age of anxiety� by Madeleine Bunting . I include short extracts from both to give a sense of their flavour:
“Until 2001, far fewer Americans were killed in any grouping of years by all forms of international terrorism than were killed by lightning, and almost none of those terrorist deaths occurred within the United States itself. Even with the September 11 attacks included in the count, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism since the late 1960s (which is when the State Department began counting) is about the same as the number of Americans killed over the same period by lightning, accident-causing deer, or severe allergic reaction to peanuts.”
John Mueller
“We need to be much more aware of the corrosive impact of fear on politics and civil society. The ugliest and most powerful of political emotions, it short-circuits and distorts political debate. Once unleashed, it is very hard to reverse. Figures last week showed that while crime has fallen, fear of crime remains stubbornly high. Fear has its short-term uses for both politicians and the media but it delivers diminishing returns. One way to manage fear is to simply switch off: don�t bother voting or watching the news, try Wife Swap instead. Worst of all, fear gets displaced. It may start as an insecurity over a job, a worry over a pension, but it can end up as racism. Fear needs clearly identifiable enemies. As the global flow of people speeds up, and our cities and countries become more diverse, there is no shortage of material out of which to fantasise the enemies of our nightmares.
So when you feel afraid, question who or what has made you so – and why it was in their interests to do so – assess the risk, and always remember how much destruction fear ultimately wreaks on everything we call civilisation.”

Madeleine Bunting