Published: May 8, 2023

|   Written by Scott Minnis

Unmasking the Unseen Enemy Eroding Our Liberties and the Path to Reclaiming Our Freedom

The current “fear pandemic” gripping the United States is a story that demands our attention. This insidious force, fueled by an endless stream of information and misinformation, has slowly eroded the very foundations of American freedom. It is time we confront and challenge the fear pandemic.

History has shown us that fear can be a potent weapon for controlling the masses and suppressing dissent. The Red Scare of the 1950s1 , the fear of terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks2 , and the recent apprehension surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic3 are all stark examples of how fear has been manipulated to justify the erosion of civil liberties.

The COVID-19 pandemic marked a turning point in the fear narrative. As the virus spread and the death toll increased, fear became a pervasive force in our society. The onslaught of information, ranging from public health guidelines to conspiracy theories, served to heighten the sense of fear and uncertainty.

One of the most significant consequences of the fear pandemic is the erosion of trust in our institutions. The lack of a cohesive national response to COVID-19 (4) and the rapid spread of misinformation on social media platforms (5) have undermined public confidence in both the government and the media.

This distrust has led to a surge in conspiracy theories, with QAnon being one of the most prominent examples (6). The rise in conspiracy theories has, in turn, fueled further fear, as individuals feel uncertain about whom to trust and what information to believe. The insidious cycle of fear, misinformation, and distrust continues to erode our society’s foundations.

The fear pandemic has also had a profound impact on our mental health. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of all adults in the United States reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted by stress and worry related to the coronavirus (7). This heightened anxiety has ramifications beyond individual well-being, affecting our relationships with others and our ability to engage in civil discourse.

As fear and anxiety permeate our society, our willingness to engage in conversations with those who hold different opinions diminishes. The result is a deeply polarized nation, where opposing sides are unwilling to find common ground or work together to address shared challenges.

The fear pandemic has also been leveraged by politicians to justify restrictive policies that infringe on our civil liberties. We have seen this play out with the rise in surveillance and the erosion of privacy rights in the name of national security following the 9/11 attacks (8). More recently, the fear surrounding COVID-19 has led to debates around vaccine mandates and the infringement on personal autonomy (9).

So, how do we begin to reclaim our freedom from the fear pandemic?

First, we must recognize the role that the media plays in perpetuating fear. A 2020 study found that media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic often focused on negative aspects, resulting in heightened anxiety among the public (10). As consumers of news, we must demand more balanced reporting and hold media organizations accountable for sensationalizing stories that stoke fear.

Second, we need to prioritize mental health and support initiatives that help individuals cope with anxiety and stress. Encouraging open conversations about mental health and providing access to mental health resources can help alleviate the negative impact of the fear pandemic on individuals and society as a whole (11).

Lastly, we must actively engage in conversations with those who hold differing opinions. Rather than retreating into echo chambers, we should strive to find common ground and work collaboratively to address the challenges we face. By fostering open dialogue and promoting empathy, we can begin to break down the barriers that have been erected by the fear pandemic.

In conclusion, the fear pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on American society, from eroding trust in institutions to negatively impacting mental health and fostering political polarization. To reclaim our freedom, we must confront and challenge this unseen enemy. By holding the media accountable for balanced reporting, prioritizing mental health, and promoting open dialogue, we can begin to dismantle the insidious grip of the fear pandemic and restore the foundations of American freedom.

  1. Schrecker, E. (2018). The age of McCarthyism: A brief history with documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  2. Mueller, J. E., & Stewart, M. G. (2011). Terror, security, and money: Balancing the risks, benefits, and costs of homeland security. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios. Retrieved from
  4. McGraw, D. (2020). The US Government’s Failed Coronavirus Response. Retrieved from
  5. Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2018). The Implied Truth Effect: Attaching Warnings to a Subset of Fake News Stories Increases Perceived Accuracy of Stories Without Warnings. Management Science, 66(11), 4944-4957.
  6. Roose, K. (2020). What is QAnon, the Viral Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory?. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  7. Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Orgera, K., et al. (2020). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from
  8. Greenberg, K. J. (2003). The USA Patriot Act: Safety at Any Cost? New York Law School Review, 47(2), 225-233.
  9. Parmet, W. E., & Sinha, M. S. (2020). Covid-19 — The Law and Limits of Quarantine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 382(15), e28.
  10. McGinty, E. E., Presskreischer, R., Han, H., & Barry, C. L. (2020). Psychological Distress and COVID-19–Related Stressors Reported in a Longitudinal Cohort of US Adults in April and July 2020. JAMA, 324(24), 2555-2557.
  11. World Health Organization. (2020). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Retrieved from