The Cold War era was a period of mass hysteria. Because the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in an arms race involving nuclear missiles, the American public had to deal with the fear that the Soviets would launch their weapons at any given time. This fear was further fueled as schools would teach little children how to brace themselves for a nuclear/missile attack. In addition, many citizens began preparing for the worst as they sought out nuclear-proof shelters and bunkers. While this hysteria may have played out during the later portion of the 20th century, there has now been a similar resurgence of hysteria due to the North Korean missile threats.
Most recently on January 13, Hawaii experienced a missile scare that resulted in many citizens freaking out and seeking immediate shelter. Such a scare was a result of a false alarm that was sent to the citizens of Hawaii through mobile text. With tensions running high due to the increased missile threats from North Korea, it is no doubt that this false alarm triggered the fears that had been on the back of many Hawaiians’ minds. As Hawaii is located very close to the coast, it is in greater potential risk of encountering such an attack if North Korea were to decide to launch its nuclear missiles.
According to the Washington Post, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said that the false alarm caused many Hawaiians to react and claims that “[c]hildren going down manholes, stores closing their doors to those seeking shelter and cars driving at high speeds cannot happen again.” Such a reaction points towards similar behaviors that were common throughout the Cold War era. As political tensions as well as nuclear missile threats get worse, the hysteria can only get further and further substantial and will ultimately cause many American citizens to prepare for the worst with increased acquirement of fallout shelters and supplies.
When interviewed by JSR, Jennie Kim, a sophomore at Immaculate Heart High School, weighed in on the hysteria: “The reaction seen in Hawaii is an indicator of the fears that are on the back of many Americans’ minds. Resembling the attitudes of the Cold War era, the missile scare of Hawaii points toward a growing hysteria as a result of increased political tension and North Korean missile capabilities.” As fears continue to grow, only time will be able to tell whether or not citizens will be able to handle the hysteria.