Terrorism

Don't Be Terrorized By Your Government This Fourth of July

Stay calm, carry on, and above all, defend the Constitution.

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CNNScreenshot
CNN

As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, officials in the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are warning us that there's a heightened threat of Islamist terrorist attacks. CNN is reporting that law enforcement officials believe that the Islamist threat is "the highest in years." CIA deputy director turned CBS security analyst Michael Morrell declared, "I wouldn't be surprised if we're sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That's how serious this is."

So just how "serious" is the risk? Well, the risks to American lives aren't very big. Things don't look good, though, for the constitutional freedoms we celebrate on the Fourth.

The current spate of terrorism warnings certainly sounds scary in light of the recent terror attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, and France. Islamic radicals linked with ISIS and Al Qaeda no doubt hope to carry out or inspire attacks in the United States. I was as horrified any other American by the September 11, 2001, atrocities. But we all need to keep in mind that terror only works if you let it.

The plain fact is that terrorism does not remotely threaten the existence of the United States. Even more importantly, it does not materially threaten you or your family. According to the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, only 68 Americans have died in terror attacks since 9/11, and that includes the 13 who died in the Fort Hood rampage by military psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan.

That's an average of just under 5 people per year. An additional 260 Americans were injured, including 132 in the Boston Marathon bombing, yielding an average of about 19 people wounded annually. So since 2001, your annual chances of dying or being injured in a terrorist attack have been 1 in 62 million and 1 in 16 million, respectively. For some context, note that an average of 335 people drown in their bathtubs annually, a rate of just over 1 in 900,000. Americans are 69 times more likely to die taking a bath than from terrorism.

Of the years covered by the Global Terrorism Database, the one with the most terrorist incidents in the U.S. was 1970—which also happens to be the year the data start being collected. That year saw an astonishing 468 terrorist bombings, arsons, and shootings, which were mostly perpetrated by black nationalists, student radicals, and left-wing militants, with an occasional white extremist group thrown in. These attacks killed 30 people and injured 161 others. In contrast, there were 16 deaths and 6 injuries in the database for 2014. Of those, only two deaths appear to have resulted from attacks motivated by radical Islam. Lightning strikes killed 26 Americans last year, 10 more than died in terror attacks.

TerrorismIncidents
GTD

When it comes to attacks specifically occurring around the Fourth of July, since 2001 four have been perpetrated by Animal Liberation Front activists, two targeted abortion clinics in Florida, one was a knifing of a Hispanic man by white supremacists in California, and one other was an attempted arson of a mosque in Missouri. Fortunately, no one died in any of those incidents.

So why do 49 percent of Americans say in a recent Gallup Poll that they are very to somewhat worried that they or a family member will become a victim of terrorism?

TerrorismPoll
Gallup

One big reason is that our extensive and growing security bureaucracies and their enablers in Congress have an interest in promoting those fears. As John Mueller, a political scientist at the Ohio State University, explained back in 2007, there is "a terrorism industry—politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, and risk entrepreneurs who systematically exaggerate dangers and who often profit from their fear-mongering and alarmism." Ian Lustick, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that when public fears have been aroused by a spectacular attack, the standard processes of political power-grabbing can fuel a self-reinforcing cycle in which the government "can never make enough progress toward 'protecting America' to reassure Americans against the fears it is helping to stoke." Or as journalist H.L. Mencken put it, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins."

As a result of these processes, Americans have seen their rights and freedoms eroded in ways both big and small. We live now in a "your papers please" world where we all are subject to "random" searches in order to enter government buildings or take public transport. We have lost our Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. The national security surveillance state has metastasized.

What is to be done? When the next terrorist attack occurs, we must forcefully remind ourselves that the perpetrators are seeking to destroy our open society and free institutions. By overreacting to the minimal risks they pose, we have been doing the terrorists' work for them. So if there is an attack this holiday weekend, stay calm, carry on, and above all, defend the Constitution.

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  1. But how can they claim they kept us safe if they didn’t first claim a danger to keep us safe from?

    1. The biggest danger to the American people are: politicians, judges, prosecutors, tax collection agents, regulatory agents, personal injury lawyers, and law enforcement. These are the real terrorists. They want a huge regulatory police state. More lawsuits and more people going to prison for long periods for petty crimes. People getting sued for millions for minor mistakes. We have the most foolish personal injury system of bogus lawsuits in the world. We also have the worlds highest incarceration rate by far. So next time you hear another ambulance chasing personal injury crook on TV, or see another police car drive by you, just say to yourself, there goes another domestic terrorist hoping to ruin my life.

      1. You left out insurance agents! They are sort of like these terror bureaucrats!

        1. and bears, don’t forget bears…

        2. For insurance agent danger see: politician.
          Insurance is about the most heavily regulated business in the U.S., both at federal and state level. Almost all the decisions agents make about you, particularly those that really screw you over, are mandated by laws written by the politicians to “protect” you from insurance agents.

          Unfortunately no one’s passing laws to protect us from politicians.

  2. I plan to ignore every Orwellian no-fireworks / no-guns sign I see when I drive through Massachusetts.

  3. It’s all worth it if one life is saved!

    1. Hopefully, your screen name tells us that this comment is, in fact, sarcastic.

  4. Bah. I haven’t been afraid of a terrorist attack since I left Iraq at the end of 2008. I am more worried some drunken dipshit is going to set my house on fire because he cannot figure out how to launch his fireworks anywhere but at every rooftop in the neighborhood…

  5. Ron, I’m sure you’d be saying the same thing if one of your family members were killed. It’s the government’s job to protect every single citizen from harm by foreign attackers. The risk is irrelevant, everybody has the right to life. We should be proud that our government is willing to do so much to keep us safe.

    1. *puts on John Phillips Sousa recording*

      1. *puts on John Phillips Sousa recording*

        +1 King of Marches

    2. Does everybody have a “right to life”?

      *runs from shitstorm*

      1. Not if you’re a suspected terrorist. Or one of the 30 innocent people standing too close to the suspected terrorist when the bombs hit.

        But they hate us for our freedumz.

        1. or an american citizen who the government wants dead.

        2. Not if you’re a suspected terrorist.

          You mean those that reject an all-encompassing scope of federal power/authority, or opposing government policies/mandates (opposing abortion, opposing the impending destruction of religious liberty, opposing the government forcing people to purchase a product/service, insist on the validity/applicability of the Constitution… basically if you oppose or inconvenience them)?

          (Source)

      2. I plan on holding my breath in the pool today and seeing if my right to life manifests itself as something other than an overweight lifeguard.

    3. *either awesome troll or misguided individual*

      1. It’s sarcasm. Tweek your meter.

        1. Look, man, I just got back from a library conference in San Francisco. My meter is broken right now and in HEAVY need of calibration.

          1. The Piranha Brothers are coming for you.

          2. Well, this is THE place to do it. I don’t think we can old real conversation, here, esp. with a long a drug/alcohol fueled weekend ahead of most of us.

    4. They want you to live in fear so they can grab more power. Read my above comment at the top of the commentary page and you will see who the real terrorists are. I hope to enlighten you.

      1. This comment was meant for A self-identified $ park y.

    5. The government crooks and personal injury lawyers are the real terrorists!

      1. Those that sell cancer insurance to Medicare patients are right there in that bunch! They know no one will be able to collect, much! I know by experience.

        1. Where can I buy insurance to insulate me from the Wrath of Government Almighty?

    6. It could be the government’s job to protect us “from harm by foreign attackers,” but it’s NOT the government’s job to fear monger – unless, of course, the real aim of the fear mongering is subjugation.

    7. I for one believe we should pay attention to our government’s terrorism warnings. After all, they certainly know more about them than we do, given that the FBI has been planning most of the recent attempts.

      1. Very True!
        Your 8 times more likely to be killed by a COP than a terrorist.
        Also I and getting to the point of “One mans terrorist is another mans FREEDOM FIGHTER”
        This is starting to ring true with the way our government is acting.

  6. I’m sure the real risk comes from right-wing extremist Liberteathuglicans.

  7. They hate us for our eroded freedoms.

    1. In that case, they should be our buds in a few more years.

    2. and because they anus.

  8. On December 6th, 1941, the odds of an American being killed by the Japanese Navy was zero. Odds can change, especially when the odds depend on human choices. That’s certainly no reason to give up civil liberties, or believe anything the government says without proof, but comparing freak accidents of nature with human behavior is disingenuous at best.

    1. Dark lord of the wc, Pearl Harbor, didn’t come from nowhere.

      1. Yes, but his point is that the threat of a purposeful act of human violence–like detonating a nuke over a major city, for instance–can’t be categorically compared to deaths in a bathtub, which are necessarily stable.

        Which is true, and far from a recommendation for the war on terror, which hasn’t done a hell of a lot to make any of us safer.

    2. I wouldn’t say the odds were zero. I would say it was significantly higher than that. Ignorance of the odds by those who were killed doesn’t change the odds.

      1. I tend to agree. I was using Ron’s methodology( past as predictor of future) to prove the point. But this is the same type of thinking that drives Keynesianism and other forms of progressivism. The right TOP MEN with enough data can predict future human behavior and know better than individuals what they should do/ worry about.

  9. “Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey shows that your chances of drowning while taking a bath are higher than you being killed in terrorist attack”

    Far-Right “Science Correspondent” Lobbies for Federal Ban on Baths, Loves Dirty Urchins

    1. Feh. I allow my orphan-urchins to bathe…if they can find a free source of water…on their own free time (20 minutes per day.

      *adjusts top hat and monocle*

    2. Won’t someone please think of the children child labor!?!

  10. in light of the recent terror attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, and France. Islamic radicals linked with ISIS and Al Qaeda

    Wait a minute. Didn’t we just spend 14 years, 4500 American lives and $4T getting rid of Al Qaeda? HOW CAN THIS BE?

    Cytotoxic, help me out here buddy. All we need to do is kill them all.

  11. The plain fact is that terrorism does not remotely threaten the existence of the United States. Even more importantly, it does not materially threaten you or your family.

    But we need to spend 14 years, 4500 American lives and $4T getting rid of Al Qaeda.

    Resources well spent. The GWoT is a fucking abomination.

    1. Look, if we can’t use expensive airplanes and expensive bombs to kill dudes in trucks with an AK and a goat what is the point of being a super power? Plus, the GWoT ribbons are really sharp looking, so that’s another benefit we have to look at. You don’t want military members to not have ribbons and medals do you!!!!!

      1. Let’s just spend more $$$ for really-sharp virtual-reality computer war games and give them ribbons for blowing up simulated boogey-orgasmisms… If the ribbons are REALLY cool-looking, it just MIGHT work out! Other major benny of this: Computer games getting hurt and killed, does NOT fuel the endless cycle of violence. I have never heard of the friends or family of computer games going out and seeking vengeance.

  12. “What is to be done? When the next terrorist attack occurs, we must forcefully remind ourselves that the perpetrators are seeking to destroy our open society and free institutions. By overreacting to the minimal risks they pose, we have been doing the terrorists’ work for them. ”

    Agree with the general sentiment, but this has things backward. The terrorists are not the ones destroying the open society, but are used as a convenient device for expanding state power, which is what states and bureaucracies do by their nature. Leviathan was growing before the October Revolution, which was a multi-generational threat. Terrorism, Islamic or otherwise, is a joke compared to a bunch of nuclear-armed commies.

    Or a federal government that has demonstrated an excessive desire to monitor its citizens’ private communications sans warrant.

  13. “When the next terrorist attack occurs, we must forcefully remind ourselves that the perpetrators are seeking to destroy our open society and free institutions.”

    That’s a load of horseshit peddled by Bush after 9/11 (“They hate our freedoms”). They’re seeking to change our foreign policy and exact revenge for military interference on “Muslim lands” and people. Why would they care if the United States is a corporate police state? It still would be hostile to an Islamic agenda.

    1. c: Both can be true. For example, there is the little matter of blasphemy and free speech.

    2. They didn’t bomb the offices of Charlie Hebdo, burn down the Danish embassies, or assassinate Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn because of US foreign policy. The radicals really do hate us for our freedoms; many of them have written at considerable length of their disgust for us from time spent living in the West.

  14. People apparently have real problems when it comes to being rational about risk. Here’s one link talking about it: http://bigthink.com/risk-reaso…..about-risk

    That’s no excuse for political fearmongering that takes advantage of that, however.

    Also, there’s a 60% chance of rain here on the 4th – Here’s hoping it cuts down on fires from fireworks! How many people die from fireworks, Ronald? Apparently, about 1000 people are injured every year from fireworks, with deaths being relatively small, about 4 or 5 a year.

    1. So after the 4th, reason should run a feature called “Terrorist or Fireworks” in which readers get a list of people who died and get to guess how.

    2. Argh, other sites quote different figures for the injuries, some much higher, although the death figures seem to be consistently 5-10 per year.

    3. In the last five years, the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack have been about 1 in 20 million (that’s including both domestic attacks and overseas attacks).

      I like this chart to demonstrate the point.

    4. I’m far from a security statist, but Ron’s argument is oversimplifying for immediate ideological benefit–there’s not going to be anything like a nuclear attack on 7/4/2015–as he’s treating all terrorism as a relatively minimal risk, when the unlikely act of nuclear terrorism would feature exponentially more deaths than a single bombing.

      Highly intelligent people with strong libertarian streaks–I’m thinking of Taleb–have tried to engage fat-tailed risk in a serious way, which would include nuclear/biological terrorism. I think it’s horseshit broadly speaking, as we can’t predict the future due to the realities of human action, but rare, catastrophic risks are categorically different from relatively stable ones, like street crime or car wrecks or drowning in the pool.

  15. The definition of the word “threat” has become so watered down it’s essentially meaningless.

    10 bums crashing a few jets into buildings? While tragic for the dead and their families, it’s not a real threat to the existence of the US. What are they going to do, crash 757s into buildings until we surrender? If you were to go back in time 40 years and told the military that terrorism was a “threat” to the US and required spending trillions of dollars to counter, you’d have been rightly laughed out of the room.

    1000 Soviet nuclear warheads raining down throughout the country was a threat. Several thousand tanks rolling across the Fulda Gap was a threat.

    This is a joke.

    I’m not saying we do nothing when attacked. We should find the fuckers who did it and bring them to justice, preferably with a trial, but not necessarily. But the resources we’ve expended on something as insignificant as a buzzing fly is criminal. AND hasn’t improved, and has likely worsened the situation.

    1. Fundamentally speaking, the only threats I see are internal ones from retard agencies like the FBI, TSA and CIA, and dumbfuck politicians like FaFu and Her Royal Cuntness.

      1. I second the motion:
        The chances of random John Q. Public dying due to a terrorist attack in the US are infinitesimal compared to the realities of government intrusion and overreach which will (not may) be abused in the future unless it is remedied.

  16. I’m not terrorized by my government, I’m terrorized by the 600,000 smelly, red, sweaty, fat, drunk, lumbering tourists that invade my space this time each year.

    I’ll be home in VA trying to keep my dog calm while my redneck neighbors set off fireworks all night (which is infinitely more acceptable than the aforementioned hellscape).

  17. I had a dream a few months back where I was in a parking lot on the 4th of july to watch fireworks, but then there was a nuclear explosion over the horizon. Let’s hope I’m not a precog (or if I am, that I was sensing the impending release of Fallout 4)

  18. Every time the Bush administration came out with a warning the left yelled fear mongering. All I ever hear now is how much safer we are under Obama yet there have been far more warnings under his administration and actually far more attacks, the success of those attacks does not matter just the quantity.

    1. They are both pro police state; Bush, and Obama.

  19. Shorter RB: Don’t bathe with terrorists!

  20. Fear sells. Doesn’t matter if it is terrorism, weather, or illegal’s coming over the border. Just another tool to take control. I actually think it is the new State Religion.

  21. That might be more than can be said for the antics of “government”.

  22. There are going to be scores of terrorism attacks by Islamic extremists this weekend — at least as many as they’ve carried out for the last twelve September 11s, and for the same reason: the only man that crazed Moslems hold in higher esteem than the Pedophile Mohammed is Pope Gregory XIII.

    1. OK, I’m thick. Why THAT pope?

  23. They have to figure out how to keep unemployment from falling!?

  24. this administration is so anti american with the president even refusing to attend veterans services or pay tribute –
    that it is far more likely a politically manufactured attempt to get americans not to celebrate something so contrary to the ideas of socialism and centralized government………..
    our independence !!!

    I would suggest concealed carry and then carry on responsibly….have a great 4th of july everybody.

  25. The power of nightmares.

  26. I figure that the best course of action is to stay out of airliners, and away from big, chaotic events organized in Liberal strongholds.

    I have done so since 9/11. It’s been no trouble.

  27. One might say the Bush antiterror/antifreedom regime was one of the biggest failures of libertarian thought influence in history. But let’s be honest, you were too busy diddling yourselves over the great libertarian success that was his trillion-dollar tax cuts for the wealthy.

    1. Lol. Poor Tony.

      1. More like; Poor Tony the Prog-Fascist.

    2. Tony. I see some of your posts and sometimes feel sorry for you when all you get is hostility. But sometimes you seem to be begging for it. Take this comment.

      Are you trying to imply that anyone who does not dance under the Liberal umbrella is a member of Team Red?

      You have been told on many occasions that Libertarians are no more Team Red fans, then they are Team Blue.

      If you want to direct your comments to any “Conservative” readers, be clear about that.

    3. Fucking idiot Tony proves he’s a fucking idiot….who knew.

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  30. Hilarious, considering Ronald Bailey has supported government terrorism via “Anthropogenic Global Warming” and such.

  31. “So if there is an attack this holiday weekend, stay calm, carry on, and above all, defend the Constitution.”

    What constitution? You only have freedom of speech if you tow the politically correct line – ask Donald Trump! The second amendment has been effectively repealed in my state and is under CONSTANT attack everywhere else! You have fourth amendment protections against search and seizure every regular day of your life when you don’t need it – when something happens – and the government feels the need to search and seize – whatever their want or need – the government searches and seizes what it wants – when it wants – AT GUNPOINT!

    THE BILL OF RIGHTS HAS BEEN RELEGATED, THROUGH THE EXCUSE OF NEEDED SECURITY AND A KANGAROO FISA COURT – TO BE FOOLISH WORDS TO FOOL FOOLS!!!
    Islamic terrorists are a socialist tyrants best friend – for the excuse to limit rights and build a huge military police force – ALL AIMED AT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!!

    FORGET DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION – AT THIS POINT WE NEED TO WIN BACK THE CONSTITUTION!!!

  32. Holy shit it’s 7/5 and nobody died. Let’s give another 100 billion to these retards.

    This is getting into Madoff territory in this ponzi scheme.

    I’m free to go rafting on a river tomorrow because no one beheaded me today. Thanks, Obama.

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