The New York Times has an interesting “Op-Art” piece suggesting alternatives to the color-coded terror alert system the government adopted shortly after 9/11. They’re all interesting, and commentator Kurt Anderson gives them serious consideration.
But a fundamental premise of this project (and the color-coded system) is wrong: The government can not tell the people how to feel about threats, and it should not try to. Rather, the government should share the information it has (warts and all), allowing the public to digest it and synthesize it.
The public is fully capable of handling threat information. Giving them more information will put them in a position to protect themselves and the country in thousands of ways that experts could never prescribe. Withholding information while agitating people with emotional dictates is condescension and error.
The color-coded system should be elminated, and it should not be replaced.