Get a Grip, America: Islamic terrorism is not your main threat.
It’s pinch-me-time again. Every once in a while I like to dip into the research, ground myself with facts, and evaluate the anti-Muslim fear our government and media try to stuff us with. Being immersed, of late, in the Lone Wolf phenomenon in the U.S. I chose the New America Foundation’s DB Homegrown Terrorism Cases, 2001-2011.
Islamist terrorism has been less deadly in the United States than other forms of domestic terrorism since September 11, 2001. At least 29 people have been killed by non-jihadist extremists since 9/11, while 17 people have been killed by jihadists. Since 9/11 only right-wing terrorists have used chemical weapons. Twice as many non-Islamists were able to acquire explosives or bomb-making components. They were also more able to acquire weapons before their crimes, often in large quantities. Oh, and if profiling is your thing, non-Islamists were twice as likely to have been charged with violent crimes before their acts of terrorism. For those of you fearful of immigrant terrorists please note that most terrorists, of all ideologies, were born in the U.S. of A. This does not mean that Islamic terrorism is a zero threat. It does, however, call for reason instead of panic.
Policies that alienate local communities, such as infiltration and profiling, can take into account the fact that cooperation with and assistance to authorities by family/community/religious group is more prevalent in Muslim communities than in others. Perhaps first and second generation Muslim-Americans have enough experience with terrorism to hate it enough to give them the courage to speak out. Perhaps they desperately want to show the world that most Muslims (like most anybody else) are against terrorism. Perhaps they just want to declare their innocence and get people to trust them again. Maybe they’re just basically good people. Whatever the reasons, Muslims are not America’s number one domestic threat.
Unfortunately, because Americans are living in fear, we are less inclined than normally to accept facts that disagree with our current views. Fear makes us listen more to what agrees with us, and less to contrary ideas. It results in our readiness to accept simplistic explanations and solution ideas. It enhances our bias for authority and so makes us less likely to resist government’s erosion of our civil rights.
Here’s a simple truth to get into your head: there is less to fear from Muslims than the government and the media tell us.
[We note that the study suffers from some inherent problems. The most distorting is the fact the media tends to emphasize terrorism in Muslim involved cases and, on the other hand, tends to not use the ‘T’ word in right-wing incidents, preferring to talk of ‘murder’, ‘attack’, etc. This makes data gathering difficult and tends to make Islamist attacks seem more prevalent than they are (even though they still rank lower than right-wing terrorist attacks.)]