The recent Islamist terror attacks in Paris, France have rekindled long-simmering Islamophobia and xenophobia among many Americans, including political leaders from both major parties who now want to shut the door on Syrian refugees fleeing civil war.
However, more people have been shot in the United States this year by gun-toting toddlers than by Muslim terrorists. Far more people, in fact—so far in 2015, there has been one Islamist terror attack on US soil, the July 16 shooting at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee that left five dead and two wounded. Meanwhile, there have been at least 50 incidents involving toddlers—children age 4 and under—shooting people in the United States this year. At least 13 toddlers have inadvertently killed themselves with firearms, two have killed other people and 10 have injured others since January.
A quick Google news search will reveal page after page of media reports of toddlers and other children who have gotten their little hands on firearms and hurt or killed themselves or others. Over the past couple of weeks, a 3-year-old in Utah shot himself dead and a 2-year-old in Georgia killed his twin brother while playing with guns. Meanwhile, a Google news search of ‘Islamist terror in US’ turns up nothing about any Americans killed by Muslim terrorists on domestic soil, but instead delivers this Washington Post headline: “Americans More Fearful of a Major Terror Attack in the US, Poll Finds.”
According to the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, fully 83 percent of registered voters say they believe there will soon be a major Islamist terror attack in the United States resulting in large casualties, even though there have only been two such attacks over the course of the century. In those same 15 years, more than 420,000 people have been killed by gun violence in the United States. That is more people than live in major American cities including Minneapolis, Cleveland, New Orleans, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Oakland.
Americans’ reactions to the problems of Islamist terrorism and gun violence differ markedly. While Americans rank terrorism as their number one concern—ahead of the flagging economy and even the existential planetary threat of climate change—and the WaPo-ABC News survey found that a majority of Americans want the United States to escalate its air and ground war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to better combat Islamist extremism, a recent Gallup poll found that gun control ranks 22nd among perceived national problems, with only 2 percent rating it as their most important issue.
On an average day, over 30 Americans—seven of them children or teenagers—are murdered with guns. On an average day, zero Americans are killed by Muslim terrorists. Yet Americans are so irrationally terrified of Muslim terrorists that a majority of the US population wants to escalate a war that has already claimed an estimated 1.3 million lives, most of them innocent men, women and children, while seeming perfectly content to allow the wholesale slaughter of millions of Americans, many of them innocent men, women and children, over the decades due to the sacred and inviolable Second Amendment right to bear pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, submachine guns, machine guns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, anti-tank guns and other “hunting and self-defense tools.”
While you were reading this, it is highly likely that at least one American got shot. It is extremely unlikely that any American was attacked by Muslim terrorists. In conclusion, you’re more likely to be killed by the following things than by Islamist terrorism:
- Police officers (58 times more likely, in fact)
- Falling icicles
- Bee, wasp and hornet stings
- Hot tap water
- Dog bites
- Falling furniture
- Right-wing extremists: Both in frequency and in number of victims, conservative domestic terrorists—usually white Christian men—have struck far more often on US soil than Islamists over the past decade, as the latest deadly attack, against a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, soberly reminds us. A 2013 report from the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point expressed alarm at the “dramatic rise in the number of attacks and violent plots originating from individuals and groups who self-identify with the far right of American politics.” The report cited Christian fundamentalists, militias, skinheads, neo-Nazis and militant anti-abortionists as growing threats.
While radical Islam is an international affliction deeply rooted in many Muslims’ notions of religious supremacy, it is a scourge that rarely affects Americans at home. The same cannot be said for gun violence, drugs (both legal and illicit), smoking, drinking, unsafe driving, unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyles and other far more prolific—and, sadly, more preventable—killers.
Now tell me again who and what I’m supposed to be afraid of?