Remember Aesop’s tale about the little boy who cried wolf? A shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, “Wolf! Wolf!” and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last, but nobody believed the shepherd boy, nobody came to his rescue, because he had cried “Wolf” one time too many. This is what our politicians are doing today with the issue of terrorism. It seems that rather than try to convince the public that they are the most knowledgeable and capable person for the job, they prefer to run on a platform of fear, blaming everyone else for the wolves, real or imagined, then saying that they and they alone have the “the plan” that will kill those mean ol’ wolves.
Donald Trump and others in the GOP have declared war on Islam. Not on terrorism, but on a religion, on every Muslim in the world, all 1.6 billion Muslims, roughly 23% of the world’s population. That would be bad enough, but stupid is as stupid does … Donald Trump actually told Anderson Cooper that “Islam hates us”. Not radical Islamists, not Muslims, but Islam, the religion. It is the same thing as saying Hindu hates us, or Christian hates us. It makes no sense, and it merely points up the fact that Trump does not understand, nor has he taken the time to understand, the difference between people and their religion. When asked by Cooper to clarify whether he was saying that all Muslims hate us, Trump replied that it is up to the media to “figure it out”. Is this really the man people want to become the next president of the United States? REALLY? Trump is apparently so afraid of Muslims that he has called for a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the country, has said we should murder the families of terrorists, and plans to bring back waterboarding and cryptically claims we “should go a lot further than waterboarding.” Does he believe that terrorism is a genetic condition?
The main point I want to make is that Islam is not something to be feared. Terrorism is an ideology, the violent results of which needs to be stopped, but Islam is a respectable religion, just as are Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. And even at that, I would not consider terrorism to be one of the most significant issues facing the U.S. at this time. Radical Islamist terrorism targets primarily countries in the Middle East. That is a fact. That fact is well-known to those politicians running for president this year, but they seem to have an aversion to being bothered by facts and documentation, preferring instead to play on our fears. In the fifteen years since 9/11, there have been 380 deaths from terrorist attacks in the United States. While yes, that is 380 too many, consider this: during that same fifteen years, there have been 406,496 gun-related deaths in the U.S. Now which one do you think should be the higher priority of government? Yet a large portion of our population would prefer to believe that terrorism is the bigger threat to our safety.
Even in the European Union, Islamist terrorism accounts for less than 1% of all terrorist attacks, the rest being perpetrated by Separatist, Left Wing and other terrorist groups. Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan together account for three-quarters (75%) of the total terrorist attacks worldwide, while the west accounts for under 3% in total. I think we can safely say that while terrorism is important, it is a growing phenomenon, it is simply not the most critical issue facing the U.S. today, and the politicians who would claim it is are, like the little shepherd boy, crying WOLF!
The danger, of course, is that eventually we all come to realize that this was merely a tactic on the part of the presidential wanna-be’s and their supporters to rally the nation around a cause, to detract our attention from the real issues, and eventually we all get tired of hearing it. Deeply affected after the events of 11 September 2001, this nation rallied around our government, around our president (Bush), and we made the sacrifices that were asked of us. We willingly gave up a degree of our privacy in the interest of national security. We sacrificed the lives of our young men and women to fight two wars, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Eventually, however, we began to ask questions, such as why did we really go to war in Iraq? How much of our privacy is it really necessary for us to sacrifice? Where does it end?
Trump and his cohorts use the threat of terrorism as a smoke screen, perhaps because they do not have answers for the really tough questions. It is easier to say that they will bomb ISIS, that they will get rid of the threat, and the free world will be safe once again. Think about it. First, how do you “bomb ISIS”? It is not a country, not a physical place, they exist in cells throughout the Middle East and other areas. It is impossible to bomb a terrorist cell without significant collateral damage (civilians). Second, does it not make sense that if simply bombing were the answer, it would have already been done? Vote for the candidate of your choice, certainly, but do so because he or she understands the real issues that face our country, not because they are promoting unhealthy fear among the citizens of our nation. Let us not be made fools of by rushing to the little shepherd boy crying “WOLF”.
Note: Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is the most comprehensive searchable database that I am aware of. It requires no membership, no fees, no registration, so if you are interested in terrorism statistics, please feel free to use it: https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/