the end of the world, or just hives?

We're scared out of our wits, and the Bushies' continual and manipulative alarms are doing everything they can to keep the heebie jeebies going.

Nine months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States finds itself in a jittery mood, as scandal and doubts envelop a growing number of major institutions.

But there is also sheer fear, and it won't go away.
During the maximum jitters of the Cuban missile crisis, the high school where I was an impressionable freshman happened to be holding an assembly. The star speaker was a priest from San Francisco, who arranged to have his remarks interrupted by a student delivering a note. The priest studied the note, then looked up with a somber face and announced that the Soviet Union and the United States had just launched nuclear missiles at each other.

Forty years later, I can still hear the terrified whimper in that auditorium as we all considered our imminent doom. But I can't remember a word of what the speaker said afterward. That's the thing about fear: It gets your attention and then refuses to give it back.

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Published on June 15, 2002 1:57 PM.

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