Far more fear than there is terror


Consider This Rob Swindell


The steak on your dinner plate is significantly more dangerous and much more likely to cause your death than a terror attack by immigrants or refugees.

According to the National Safety Council, the odds of dying from heart disease and cancer are one in seven. Reporting from Business Insider, the odds of dying from all forms of terrorism are one in 45,808. And the odds from dying from a terrorist attack from a refugee are one in more than 46 million; from an illegal immigrant is one in more than 138 million.

Eight years later and here we are again forced to deal with fear being propagated by the White House. President Donald Trump is obsessed, and seemingly terrified, by immigration and refugees seeking to relocate. His constant tweeting about the overturn of his travel ban called it “so dangerous” and said “The security of our nation is at stake!” (He used all caps.) In fact, the Trump administration is so dedicated to scaring Americans that it created a fake terrorist attack, the Bowling Green Massacre, to instill fear of the unknown and unreported.

Terrorism is scary. People fear terrorism because it is random, unpredictable, and people are often left feeling powerless. I’ve had more than one nightmare that entails me running from a shooter. Terrorism works precisely because the emotion it creates drives irrational responses. Patrick Kennedy said, “Terrorism is a psychological warfare. Terrorists try to manipulate us and change our behavior by creating fear, uncertainty, and division in society.”

Terrorists succeed when countries turn on themselves and allow their politics to be manipulated by fear.

I’m not being dismissive. A terrorist attack could occur, and it could be horrible. It is unsettling to know that at any time, in any venue, something terrible could happen. There is also the difference from a coordinated terrorist attack that kills hundreds and lone wolf spree shootings that attack dozens. Either way, we should do everything we reasonably can do to prevent mass killings or shooting by anyone or any organization.

The thing is, at least in regard to refugees and illegal immigrants, the process works.

To declare that drastic measures, like a Muslim ban, is necessary for the safety of our country is statistically and frankly ridiculous. It is even more ridiculous when you factor that the last major terrorist attack was the result of individuals primarily from Saudi Arabia, one country that was not included in the travel ban.

Refugees in particular are well vetted over a couple of years and generally have no say as to which country they will be sent. These are people fleeing their homeland because of tragedy — war or fear of persecution. As many have said, the refugee program would be a poor route for a terrorist.

Recently in the news, a 14-year-old Cleveland girl was taken and killed on her way to school. In Columbus, a 21-year-old college student was found murdered in a park. In Lorain, a man was killed while going through a fast food restaurant drive through.

Of preventable deaths, last year more than 3,000 people died from drug overdoses in Ohio alone. In 2015, there were more than 38,000 motor vehicle deaths across the country. Deaths by suicide number in excess of 45,000 annually.

The point is that statistics do not provide a rational argument for changing our travel security procedures. There are many more things that people can do — individually and without increased government intervention — to make our country safer. And if that government money were spent on treatment and prevention drug programs, for example, many thousands of lives could be saved compared to the very low rate of crimes committed by illegal immigration and refugees.

We just need to keep things in perspective. I think everyone supports reasonable efforts to keep our country and its citizens safe. It’s just not ever acceptable to create artificial fears to justify the political discrimination of racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

Less steak, more kale.

Rob Swindell is a lifelong Lorain County resident offering his opinions on politics, science, and social issues. He can be reached at robswindell@roadrunner.com.

Consider This Rob Swindell
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