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Police officers in Times Square on New Year's Eve. (Photo: Peter T/flickr/cc)

We Are Still Alive (Non-Terrorism Edition)

Peter Van Buren

 by We Meant Well

I survived. America, and the world, and you, survived. We awoke the first day of 2016 to find that once again, using the extraordinary power of fear, we defeated the terrorists.

Hard as it is to persuade a constantly re-frightened American public, there have been only 38 Americans killed inside the Homeland by so-called Islamic terrorism since 9/11.

Argue the number, hell, go ahead and double or triple it, and it still a tragic, sad, but undeniable drop in the bucket. Throw in a few mysterious “foiled plots” the government never seems to have many specifics on to share and tack on some more to the terror body count. No matter how hard you drive, you just can’t get the number of Americans killed or even in clear danger of being killed to a very large number.

And do spare the tired trope of “well, security measures such as at our airports have saved us from who knows how many attacks.” Leaving aside the idea that the argument itself demands a kind of negative logic (the “who knows” part) to even make sense, a recent test by the Department of Homeland’s own Inspector General’s Office, posing as travelers, showed 95 percent of contraband, including weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. If a failure rate of 95 percent did not have planes falling from the sky, one must conclude security has little to affect terrorism.

CNN on the Eve told us that over one million people were in Times Square to see in the New Year, along with 6,000 cops. The guest being interviewed helpfully said that meant each cop would have to watch 166 people (actually, the guy said 300-500 to upgrade the worry) for signs that they were terrorists, and worried that the ratio was not enough to protect those out of each bunch of 166 who were not bad guys. Guess what? None of them were. More Americans died of alcohol poisoning (booze terror!) on New Year's Eve than terrorism.

We are not terrorists. No one was hurt. No bombs went off. Almost all of our homegrown lone wolves are all Google and no game. It was all panic, designed to keep us in a state of fear. Fearful people are easy to manipulate.

Stop being afraid.


© 2021 Peter Van Buren
Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His books include: "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People" (2012) and "Hooper's War: A Novel of Moral Injury in WWII Japan" (2017).

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