On January 6th, 1941 Franklin Roosevelt delivered what became known as “The Four Freedoms” speech. It was later illustrated by artist Norman Rockwell in a series of paintings for “The Saturday Evening Post”. In this series, I examine the threats to these freedoms as they are attacked by the current administration and his defiant base.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is a famous line from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech intended to reassure Americans following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was also meant to prepare them for the struggles they would face in the war to come.
Nowadays, fear is a constant. We are in fear of losing basic rights, like freedom of speech and the press. We are in fear of losing vital healthcare and Social Security. We fear that the system of checks and balances promised by our Founding Fathers is failing as Congress refuses to challenge an Executive branch run amok. We are in fear of foreign intervention in our cherished electoral process, as we once again see uncertainty in our future.
While these fears are real, they are trivial when compared to the fears faced by minorities and others. An African-American lives in fear that a traffic stop might lead to their death. Immigrants, fleeing oppression in their own countries, fear being separated from their children as they seek safety in asylum. Jews and Muslims face fear in their houses of worship as gunmen target them for perceived slights.
And what about our children? School children face fear as the threat to their schools becomes more and more a frightening reality. Should our children be forced to cower under desks during "active shooter" drills in their schools?
Even those who speak out against this administration live in fear as rabid supporters make threats and mail pipe bombs.
What is stoking these fears? You need look no further than a certain Twitter feed.
Despite this administration’s claims, white nationalism is on the rise. One only has to look to Charlottesvilleto see stark evidence of this. Chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and brandishing tiki torches, a group of white nationalists sought to intimidate those who were protesting a Confederate statue.
Even though one of the counter protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed by a white supremacist plowing his car into a crowd, the President of the United States defended the attackers, repeatedly declaring that there were “fine people on both sides”.
Shouldn’t Congress call him out on his fearful rhetoric? You would think that would be common sense. Instead, the Republicans who control the Senate, and for the first two years of this administration, the House, cower in fear as they worry that their actions could result in a career-ending Tweet or upset the pro-Trump electorate. They value their precious positions over the needs and rights and safety of the citizens they are supposed to represent.
It’s time to stop living in fear. It’s time to take back our country. It’s time to take a stand!