Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, November 17th, 2015.

The Weird Geography of Fear

Obama Administration

Lots of a-fearing going on out there. I believe I’m seeing something that happened in the weeks and months after September 11 also. Well, in the years after September 11. And that is, the further away from an actual or likely target of terrorism, the more hysterically fearful people were about terrorism. I wrote about this in 2006:

If you understand the fear issue, then what I call Erin’s Paradox (named for my daughter because she noticed it, not because she has it) becomes more understandable. Erin’s Paradox says that the further away Americans live from any likely terrorist target, the more fearful they are of terrorism.

After 9/11 I kept reading about people out in the Midwest stampeding to buy firearms during the infamous Anthrax episode, for example. Yes, that does not make sense. I was working on Madison Avenue at the time and could see Rockefeller Center — where at least one actual anthrax letter was delivered, as I remember — from my office, yet somehow I was not struck with fear that I would be next.  Anyway, the 2006 post continued,

“Likely terrorist targets” are urban, and city dwellers learn to be comfortable with multiculturalism. If you live in some homogeneous little town out on the prairie, however, it’s more likely you are not comfortable with multiculturalism at all. Thus, dusky Islamic terrorists from unfathomable foreign places scare the stuffing out of them, much more so than the potential Timothy McVeigh wannabee next door.

 See also: White supremacists more dangerous to America than foreign terrorists, study says.

Of course, I’m spending most of my time in a temple with like-minded people, but I’m not personally seeing people having fear meltdowns. But, apparently, some are.

Charles Pierce looks at some of the hysteria out there.


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