Letter to the Editor: The Faces of Terrorism

At times things are not as they seem, yet the feeling of what is real, even when it isn’t, can guide our decisions. Such decisions, based upon an inaccurate perception of reality, can be faulty.

An example of feeling that something is real when it isn’t is the fear of flying. Some people feel much safer driving than flying. Yet is much riskier riding in a car than flying in an airplane. The odds of dying in a plane crash are one in eleven million, whereas the odds of dying in a car crash are one in five thousand. This misperception of the comparative risks may cause a faulty decision.

A misperception some have expressed since 9/11 is that terrorist attacks in the United States are carried out mostly by Muslims. However, from 2008 to 2016, two-thirds of the terrorist attacks in the United States were carried out by homegrown white males who mostly held far-right political beliefs, not Muslims.

A study by the Nation’s Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigating Reporting found that between 2008 and 2016 there were 201 terrorist incidents (both plotted and carried out) on U.S. soil. Of these 201 incidents, 115 were carried out by right-wing extremist, white supremacist, “sovereign citizens” or militia groups. Another 19 incidents were planned or carried out by left-wing homegrown groups, such as, eco-terrorists and animal- rights groups. Only one-third, or 63, terrorist incidents involved Islamist extremists. On critical examination, the face of the terrorist in the United States is more likely a white extremist than a Muslim.

White extremist groups are also more deadly than their Islamist counterparts. One third of the white extremist attacks in the United States have been deadly, as compared with 13 percent of those by Islamists.

Former president George W. Bush nine days after 9/11 said, [to “Muslims throughout the world,”] “We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.”

By contrast, on Dec. 7, 2015, Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” As President, he uses the misperception that most terrorists are Muslim, focusing only on the Islamist extremist and ignoring the white supremacist.

As a leader of our great nation he should not tap into misguided fear but lead the search for what is real. It is scary that the person in the oval office taps into misperceptions and fears then uses them for his advantage. This is the type of leadership one would expect from some third world dictatorship. To lead in an honorable way, Trump should craft policies that are based on reality.


Jim Black

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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