Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The everyday terror we all live with

from digbyblog

by digby

I realize that terrorism is scary and I certainly hope that the US doesn't suffer any more attacks from Islamic extremists any time soon.

But this is the kind of thing that really scares the hell out of me and it's all too common in America:
After giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson in the parking lot of a Las Vegas middle school last Thursday night, Tammy Meyers nearly hit another car on their drive home. That car apparently followed them home, police say, where one passenger opened fire, hitting Meyers in the head. Meyers, 44, died at University Medical Center Saturday after her family took her off life support.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, after avoiding the wreck with the other vehicle, Meyers pulled over, and got into an argument with the three people reportedly in the second car; one apparently threatened her.

The car allegedly followed the Meyers' home, and after the mother and daughter pulled in front of their house, opened fire. Tammy's husband, Robert, told the Associated Press that after hearing gunshots, the couple's adult son ran out of the house with a handgun, firing several shots. ABC News reports the daughter had run inside before the shooting started.

We live in a shooting gallery in this country. The bullet of a random armed asshole angry about a fender bender is far more likely to kill us than a terrorist:

A few more statistics:

In the combined US and European Union statistics for 2010, percentage of terrorist attacks that occurred in the US: .008

Among 23 developed OECD countries, percent of all firearm deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2003: 80

Number of 249 terrorist attacks in 2010 in European Union carried out by Muslim extremists: 3

Number of whites killed by other whites, primarily by firearms, in US, 2000-2009: 46,171

There is no ability in this country to curb the kind of random violence that occurs every day among our own people for the most mundane of reasons, even when people are mowed down in movie theatres and armed lunatics shoot 1st graders by the dozens.

And yet I hear ridiculous crapola like this all day long on cable news networks, the worst of which on Fox and CNN are basically running snuff porn as often as possible and pimping the most hysterical ideas possible. Yesterday terrorism expert Bob baer said on CNN that ISIS was "the worst pandemic of violence ever" and that it was inevitable that American lone wolves inspired by ISIS would attack us here: "I can see them coming."

Apparently if you are killed by a lone wolf ISIS misfit the death is worse than if you are killed by a miscreant with a gun who gets upset over a fender bender or a parking place. I don't know why that should be, especially since the latter is far more likely than the former.

I certainly understand why the Europeans are freaking out. They aren't used to random gun violence. And needless to say, the fact that Jews are being specifically targeted is extremely horrifying. Terrorism carries a special brand of fear due to its political motivation.

But the "lone wolf" threat in the US? Considering the threat we live with from our fellow "lone wolf" citizens every day, even from political violence, it ridiculously hysterical. Nobody bats an eye at abortion clinics being targeted for years on end. A couple of right wing lunatics gunned down police officers in Las Vegas with a political beef a few months back and we didn't launch a national crusade against it. We can't even sustain any alarm at kids shooting up kids in schools for longer than a couple of days. We hardly even report it anymore it's so old hat. If there's one nation on earth that knows how to keep calm and carry on in the face of random armed misfits gunning down strangers it's us.

Update: Paul Waldman has a good pieceup at the Plumline about the return of the GWOT:

To date, ISIS has killed four Americans, a horrible tragedy for those people and their families. But since the idea of the group’s threat to America is at this point entirely hypothetical, we should be as specific as we can when we talk about that threat. Do we think they’re going to try to hijack planes or send agents here to set off bombs? And if so, what do we need to do to counter those threats that we aren’t already doing? If we’re going to expand our military involvement in the Middle East, is there a way to do it that won’t create more problems than it solves?

Those are simple, obvious questions, but so often they’re overwhelmed by people waving their arms and shouting “We’re all gonna die!” In the days and years after September 11, Republicans repeated that al Qaeda was an “existential threat,” a notion that was utterly insane yet seldom examined. And we certainly acted as though the very existence of the United States of America was indeed in question. Congress gave the federal government a slate of new powers to spy on its citizens. We created a surveillance apparatus of gargantuan size and scope. We deployed a network of secret prisons as sites for a program of torture. And we all got used to the idea that the War on Terror is forever.

From what I gather from the comments of various law enforcement officials and terrorism experts, the threat that concerns them is the Lone Wolf scenario. I'm sure it's very scary. But again, what makes it so much scarier than Adam Lanza or James Holmes or Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold? I don't think anyone wants those kinds of killings but we haven't decided to turn ourselves into a full-blown police state to stop them. In fact, we have pretty much done nothing to stop them, even the smallest common sense measures like trying to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill kids. So all this handwringing over Muslim lone wolves seems just a bit over the top.

But it is very convenient and lucrative for certain politicians, news networks and military contractors, so there's that ...

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