The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Scariest. Thing. Ever.


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 23, 2016 - 3:38 AM

They’ve always been a little creepy, but when did clowns turn scary?

The last one I paid attention to was Clarabell the Clown on the Howdy Doody Show. Clarabell was about as scary as a stump.

But now, just holler “Clown!” and people faint and fall out. Even Ronald McDonald sends blood pressures soaring. Clown hysteria is so bad a major retailer just announced it won’t sell clown masks for Halloween.

Boo.

I haven’t done the research, but it’s a safe bet anyone scared of a clown did not attend school in the United States in the 1950s. Back then, people had real worries.

At least once a week during the ‘50s the entire student body of Edward Hynes Elementary in New Orleans—including me—practiced jumping under our desks, covering our heads and waiting for Russian nuclear bombs to blow the Big Easy to bits.

We should have been terrified, but none of us got too torn up about it. We figured nuking New Orleans would be redundant—and might even improve some of the seedier spots in the French Quarter.

And long before nuclear weapons were created, Americans worried about finding a job and finding enough to eat.

On March 4, 1933, as the country sank deeper into the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to lower the anxiety level by telling a troubled nation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

That was then, this is now. And “fear itself” is way down the list of things that keep Americans awake and worried at night.

The third annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears was just released. The results may surprise you.

According to the survey, the 10th thing most feared by Americans is Obamacare. The survey was taken before new—and higher—Obamacare premiums and deductibles are officially announced in November.

No. 9 is the fear of having someone we love get seriously ill. No. 6 is having someone we love pass away. No argument with either of those. They are certainly on my list.

At No. 8 is the fear of identity theft. This is not a worry for me. Anybody dumb enough to steal my identity deserves what they get. And it won’t be pretty.

No. 7 on the American Fears list is economic or financial collapse. No fear here. Been there, done that.

Fear No. 5 is increased government restrictions on firearms and ammunition.

Other Top Ten fears include fear of terrorism in general, fear of being a victim of terrorism and not having enough money for the future. Those items strike a chord with millions, so it’s easy to see why they scored high.

And topping the charts at No.1? Drum roll, please…

According the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, the thing feared most—by a whopping 60.6 percent of Americans—is: “Corruption of government officials.”

Really?

The good news is, government corruption is finally on everyone's radar. The bad news is, a majority of Americans fear the government. This is backward.

Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other less famous persons are credited with saying: “When people fear the government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people, there is liberty.”

If the Chapman survey is accurate, we are already living in tyranny. The good news is, there’s an easy solution to that problem. And we can start the process on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

The only thing our political leaders fear is an angry voter. No matter who you support this year, make a vow to spend the next four years reminding those we elect to office that they are our servants, not our masters.

(Send your email comments to: alexmmcrae@gmail.com .)