William O’Douglas, in his document on ‘The Black Silence of Fear’ sheds light on the aspect of fear as it is seen in today’s contemporary society. The author presents us with alarming examples of how we react in situations when fear confronts us…
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In this enlightening document, he points out how intolerance and arrogance play major roles where the minorities are concerned, suppressing them still further into a corner of oblivion. However, O’Douglas believes that if a person has to fully understand and apprehend its meaning, he has to leave his own country and lose himself in the dark regions, and absorb himself in the trials and tribulations of other civilizations. He feels that after this is carried out and when the person comes back to his own country, he would definitely be shocked at the intolerance and arrogance exhibited by the leaders who hold public office, the press and the general attitude of the Americans towards their Asian counterparts. He would also understand that thoughts were becoming standardized, ideas limited, discussions narrowed because minds have become closed. According to O’Douglas, the very thought of it, is rather disturbing especially when one loves his country. He believes that the philosophy of strength brought about through free speech, is being replaced with the philosophy of fear due to repression. The author takes the example of the Soviet society when Russia was ruled by Lenin. During that time ministers and officials were allowed to debate and come out with new ideas or criticism, but once a final decision was taken, there was no question whatsoever, of either disagreement or dissension. However, in the case of Stalin’s rule, the system of control remained totally under his custody and there was absolutely no question of free speech nor action. O’Douglas believes that America too is moving in the same direction and closely resembles the Soviet society because of the intolerance and arrogance it exhibits towards the developing and underdeveloped countries like Asia. He drives this point home when he says that the Asians identify the Americans not by freedom but by guns. Therefore, the fear mounts as the Soviet imperialism expands and while the free world contracts without putting up a fight. Communism within the country is another manifestation of inherent fear among the people, as its glories are being magnified and exalted beyond all reality. Fanning the flames of fear are some irresponsible people, especially those at the helm of affairs. Suspicion has been substituted for the goodwill of people, while character assassination has become the norm of the day. Innocent acts now bear the stamp of disloyalty. In O’Douglas’ opinion, the days when we could bravely debate, challenge, question or present our thoughts, ideas or even solutions to problems are gone because no one is permitted to enjoy such freedom. The author once again points to Soviet Russia’s policy and strongly feels that America is closely following in its footsteps and therefore the resemblance between America and Russia becomes all the more evident. According to O’Douglas, orthodoxy has gained popularity due to the rising growth of suspicion, because orthodoxy seems to be the safest bet that supports Communism. When suspicion mounts, there is no question of trust. This is the reason why there is competition for embracing orthodoxy because those who follow the path of unorthodoxy would always remain suspect. People who do not adhere to the military policy makers become suspect. All those who stand up and oppose are called ‘subversive’. People who are honest and truthful are suppressed and pushed aside. All these forces fan fear and encourage it to run rampant. Shedding light on our present way of thinking and reacting, O’
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(William O'Douglas' (The Black Silence of Fear), Essay)
“William O'Douglas' (The Black Silence of Fear), Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/environmental-studies/1413975-william-o-douglas-the-black-silence-of-fear.
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