Why Americans Are More Afraid Than They Used to Be

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tags: FDR, Franklin Roosevelt, Four Freedoms



It was 75 years ago, on Jan. 6, 1941, that President Franklin Roosevelt stood to deliver the State of the Union address that would become one of his most famous.

“At no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today,” Roosevelt admitted, but he still had hope for a future that would encompass the “four essential human freedoms”—including freedom from fear. And when Pearl Harbor was attacked at the end of that year, news reports from the time showed that Americans indeed responded with determination more than fear.

Nearly three quarters of a century later, a poll released in December foundthat Americans are more fearful of terrorism than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001. And while recent events like the attacks in ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris and the fatal shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. may have Americans particularly on edge, experts say that Roosevelt’s advice has gone unheeded for sometime. “My research starts in the 1980s and goes more or less till now, and there have been very high fear levels in the U.S. continuously,” says Barry Glassner, president of Lewis & Clark college and author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.




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