The Fear Factor
"Our suspicion of things around us is more toxic than any threat. It won't be nerve gas that destroys us--it will be our own fears." AMY M. MALLOY Kodiak, Alaska
The galvanization of the emergency services to the anthrax threat and the raising of public awareness have increased the likelihood that we will be able to weather effectively a possible major event [NATION ON THE EDGE, Oct. 22]. These alarms act in the same way a vaccine would to improve the immune system's ability to recognize a pathogen. DAVID S. RICHARD Selinsgrove, Pa.
What's the difference between a militant extremist who sends anthrax in an envelope and a nitwit prankster who sends cornstarch? Both are terrorists, sowing fear and wreaking havoc. Their actions have malignant and far-reaching consequences. Hoaxers should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. ALEXANDER J. WERTH Farmville, Va.
More psychological damage has been caused by truck-bomb scares, anthrax alarms, post office evacuations and so forth than by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. More people are killed by drunk drivers than by terrorists. More people die from the flu than from anthrax. More people die in airline accidents than in hijacked planes. Get over it, you pathetic cowards, and face reality! It's actually quite nice here. JOHN DODDS San Francisco
Almost 80 years ago, T.S. Eliot described our present situation in his poem The Waste Land: "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." EILEEN K. MEAKIN Washington
When one reads that a business executive who works in a skyscraper is shopping for parachutes, the "shadow of fear" is no longer merely a specter but a jolt of what reality is now. Terrorists who live in the shadows need to be brought out into the light and their identity made known to the world. Only when they have been smoked out of the dim world of religious fanaticism will our shadow of fear disappear. NICK GIANNIAS Montreal
Because of the threat of anthrax, authorities say I'm not supposed to open "unsolicited" mail. Are they kidding? Is there any other kind? ELEANOR M. MILLS Charlottesville, Va.
People who are alarmed about anthrax should not start to take antibiotics needlessly. Only a qualified doctor should make the decision to prescribe such medication. Bacteria could become resistant, which would make them much more dangerous and harder to eradicate. Developing a new antibiotic takes years and hundreds of millions of dollars. We do not want these efforts to be wasted. LINE MERRETTE Longueuil, Que.
Debating the Good Fight
It was interesting to hear the arguments of those idealists who caution the U.S. against military action against the terrorists [AFGHANISTAN, Oct. 22]. Those people fail to see that there is more at stake than catching a handful of psychopaths calling themselves warriors of God. What's at risk is the survival of the West. If we don't want to perish, we must get a firmer grip on our civilization. That includes a relentless fight against all those who threaten it and its values. ALEXANDER RAUH Pegnitz, Germany
Musharraf on His Mettle