Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wishing Away Terrorism

A friend posted an image to Facebook and right away, something struck me as wrong. How is it possible that only two Americans were killed annually by "Islamic jihadist immigrants" and a total of nine were murdered by "Islamic jihadist terrorists (including US citizens)? Something was wrong...until you read the fine print below the table. Then what was wrong is understandable, while at the same time, another problem becomes clear.

No, this table is not about the statistics of 2016, not even 2015, nor 2014 or 2013. What this image does is take into account ten years without considering that in the last few years, Islamic terrorism has shown a sharp rise.

To further encourage the reader to dismiss any concerns, it uses the tactic of hiding the trees in a forest of unrelated statistics. Note that armed toddlers have killed 21 people in the same period of time, lightning has killed 31, and lawnmowers have been involved in the deaths of 69. And by far, the worst seems to be "falling out of bed" (737), which is only beaten by "being shot by another American" with a grand total of 11,737.

What you are supposed to get from that is a sense of calm, unless you are related to the average of nine people killed yearly, and ignoring the 49 murdered in Orlando just this year and the 2,977 murdered on 9/11.

I'm sure they are totally comforted to know that their relatives were more likely to have been hit by lightning. Yeah, I can hear them being comforted...not.

It took me a few seconds to read the fine print at the bottom of this table/infographic, and when I did, I felt equal shares of anger and disgust, both stemming from the same place. Note the first little note. This is a 10 year average. So, it doesn't include September 11, because that would scare Americans. And, by taking a 10 year average, rather than looking at just 2016, we can somehow blur over the 49 people murdered in Orlando.

Further, we're only talking about dead, so we can ignore the four people slashed with a machete in Columbus Ohio in February and the police officer who was shot three times "in the name of Islam" in Philadelphia.

What the Huffington Post is attempting to do, almost successfully, is belittle the number of Americans attacked and murdered by Islamic terrorists because, after all, so many more are murdered by lightning and beds and lawnmowers and toddlers with weapons. This seems to be the goal of those who share it on Facebook as well.

I'll ignore lightning as I doubt there is much anyone can do to avoid a lightning strike (other than staying in basements with no windows while sitting rubber mats during rain storms). What beds, buses, lawnmowers and toddlers have in common are that these are accidents that were not intentional. Hamas fires on a city in Israel, their target is the Israeli citizen; their goal, murder and terror. When they miss, they mourn and we celebrate. When Israel fires on Gaza, our target is a precise military target. Our goal is to stop further attacks. When we miss, we mourn and they celebrate. Our goal is to MISS civilians; their goal is to hit them.

The goal of a bus, a bed, a lawnmower and a toddler is not to murder innocent people. The goal of an "Islamic-jihadist immigrant" and/or "all Islamic-jihadist terrorists (including US citizens" is to murder, glorify Allah and Islam, and cause terror.

The reason that this table bothers me so much is that it is a symptom of what is wrong in America, the need to rationalize away the true dangers of terrorism and minimize and ignore the existential threat these dangers pose to the very fabric of American society. When I pointed out that rates are higher in the Western Europe, a friend quickly reminded me that this was about America. Yes, I guess that makes what is happening in Western Europe - in Brussels and London and Paris and Nice irrelevant, right? After all, it didn't happen in the US...

Where you can't change the statistics, apparently the best thing some Americans can do is manipulate the numbers. At least 49 Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists this year; at least 100 were wounded. For a time, Wikipedia even removed the Orlando victims from this category despite the clear evidence that the attack was motivated by Islam (remember the terrorist yelling Allahu Akbar?). Over 200 people murdered in France, let's not count them!

Some victims in the US have been viciously stabbed or slashed with knives - let's not count them!

Almost 3,000 were murdered by terrorists on 9/11 - how does that number translate to an average of 2 per year? I guess it takes a lot of years and a lot of cowardice but apparently, it can be done.

Look at this graph below, but focus on the last four years presented. Clearly, over the last four years, there has been a marked increase in the number of terror attacks in the US.

Yes, more people apparently died over the last ten years because of lawnmowers - likely something really stupid that THEY did. On average, 21 toddlers were armed enough to kill themselves or someone else - again, utter irresponsibility and stupidity. A lot of people were hit by buses - does anyone think there is a conspiracy by bus drivers to murder people?

In the last few years, terror attacks in the US and Western Europe have clearly become more common. I question not the interpretation of the fact, but the almost-desperate need to deny it, to manipulate it into the world of innocuity (and yes, that's a word). Why?

Why is it so important to put terror deaths "in perspective." Where is the outrage that these deaths, these intentional murders were perpetrated against unarmed Americans in the streets of your country? How are these murderers mitigated by lightning strikes or people who fall out of bed and die?

Islamic, fundamentalist, extremist violence is on the rise. Even the life of one American is too much, never mind the nearly 50 lives destroyed this year. When American citizens are more upset by what they think Donald Trump said, than the stabbing and slashing and ramming and shooting of American citizens in the name of Islam, I am truly left wondering where the nation of my birth has gone.

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