what, me worry?
by Jim Bass
(Jan 17, 2007) Yesterday, the morning after Fox's television show "24" stunned viewers by exploding a suitcase nuke in Valencia, MSNBC had talking heads discussing whether the scene would "help President Bush." Their concern was that depicting an awful, but fake, terror attack might get people thinking, "Hmm, that Bush, he might have something there with all that terrror stuff."
And trust me, the notion that Americans might take terror seriously terrifies many on the Left. Consider this:
The menace of global terrorism has been labeled the greatest threat to western civilization since communism and yet swimming pools, peanuts and lost deer kill more Americans every single year. Why are our governments facilitating the terrorist's agenda by hyping a peril that simply doesn't exist?
Got that? The terror threat doesn't exist. Granted, that was from a loony left website.
But even The New Republic, one of the more reasoned liberal publications, had a story last month entitled, "The Case for Fear." It was a survey of two books, "Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry" and "What's Wrong With Terrorism."
Consider a few numbers. Fewer than three thousand people died in the attacks of September 11, but about forty thousand people die each year in automobile accidents. Even in 2001, Americans were fifteen times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than as a result of a terrorist attack; and seven times more likely to die of alcohol-related causes; and five times more likely to die of HIV; and five times more likely to die as a result of accidental poisoning or exposure to toxic substances.
How interesting to see the Left use traffic deaths to measure risk. Attack Machine has been comparing the 42,000 annual traffic deaths to the media's body count of military dead for three years (161,000 on American roads versus 3000 in Iraq.)
We tolerate road death as an acceptable risk, just as our military tolerates the risk of death in serving their country. We could reduce the risk of auto deaths to zero: just ask the Amish in Pennsylvania. And we could reduce military deaths by never fighting, but at what cost to national security?
Furthermore, calculating the cost of 9/11 in terms of 3000 deaths understates its significance. 9/11 dealt a body blow to the American economy, one it withstood with help from the Bush administration. The airlines immediately starting bleeding red ink, as did all aspects of the economy that rely on people and goods moving freely. Modern economies flourish on "flow" -- people producing, trading etc. 9/11 temporarily halted that flow.
Back to the New Republic:
If people expressed the same level of concern about a similarly small risk in the environmental domain, it would be natural to wonder whether we were witnessing a grotesque overreaction. John Mueller believes that we are, and that the "terrorism industry" is responsible. In his view, that industry, which includes the American government, has essentially been doing the terrorists' business, because it has taken steps to scare people beyond all reason.
Terrorism industry -- ah, so it's not jihadis we need fear, but exploitive capitalists and government puppetmasters.
...Terrorists seek to make people believe that they "cannot be safe," even if their capacity to inflict harm is sharply limited. Mueller believes that it is not terrorism, but the terrorism industry, that has made Americans so fearful, and so willing to believe that they are engaged in fighting not a form of international crime but a never-ending "war."
Sometimes you have to step back, connect the dots (the string of terror attacks on the West since 1979), and listen to our enemies. Bush critics are forever sneering that Bush refuses to "talk to our enemies." Maybe that's because Bush is listening to them and heeding their threats.
There are enough deranged Islamic jihadis to do serious harm to the USA. Consider the number of suicide bombers who every day express their commitment to the cause in Iraq. What if they were here?
In 2000, the so-called Millennium Bomber, who planned to take out LAX, was caught (by an alert border agent) as he crossed the Canadian border. Are we to believe that no more such attempts are in the works? Or worse?
Radical Islam is not the concoction of some "terrorism industry." It's real. Europe is becoming more Islamic as each year passes. Most Muslims are not terrorists, but more and more are settling into "dish villages" where they tune in Al Jazeera and worse via satellite for a daily dose of anti-western propaganda. France has been fighting a low-level intifada for more than a year, sustaining 2500 casualties among its police forces in 2006 alone. And then there's Iran.
Has this terrorist industry "taken steps to scare people beyond all reason"? I can't see it. Immediately after 9/11 President Bush encouraged Americans to resume their normal daily lives, to go to the mall etc. For this he was ridiculed for asking people to fight terror by shopping.
Where is the fright in that?
Compare that with Leftwing fear mongering over:
- Global warming -- it will kill us all unless we mend our ways, and fast!
- The police state that's taking over America. Huh? Democrat Sandy Berger gets a walk for stealing and destroying classified documents and Republican Scooter Libby goes on trial for allegedly lying to the FBI about details of a non-crime.
- The coming theocracy.
- Genetically modified foods. Here the Euro-ninnies set the bar by fretting about "Frankenfood" while puffing on their cigarettes.
When I finish this, I plan to make a cup of espresso. My non-fat coffee creamer comes with a foil security seal. It was not always like this-- packaging was not always tamper proof. But in 1982, someone poisoned a number of Tylenol bottles and returned them to drugstore shelves. Seven people died. A small number.
Yet from that day forward, packages for food and medicine have been designed,and mandated by law, to prevent more such deaths. Was that the terror industry at work? Or just common sense?