Rational fear, irrational reaction

Map showing all terrorist attacks in 2014. Click image to see full details including links to report.

Russia, Beirut, Paris, and Nigeria have all been targeted by terrorists recently with deadly results.  It’s perfectly rational, and I’ll say reasonable, for people to respond to such heinous acts with fear and trepidation.  Acts like blowing up airplanes, shooting up concert halls and restaurants, or blowing up markets where people shop to carry on in their daily lives tend to open our eyes to the notion that a terrorist act can take place anywhere at anytime.  People respond to fear in different ways, but we all react to it whether we acknowledge it or not.

Fear of the unknown is something we all have to deal with at one time or another.  Everyone has something that their afraid of or have been in a situation where fear has entered their mind.  That’s human nature.  Most people are also aware of the human “fight or flight” response to stimuli that causes fear.  There’s nothing wrong with having a fear of something or being afraid in situations where you are.  How you deal with that fear is where people differ, and that is to be expected because we are not all robotic clones of each other.

For those who think the best course of action in light of recent events is to stop Syrian refugees from entering into their countries, I offer one question.  What will that stop?  When you have an organization reaching across borders using technology to reach people in countries they’ve never come close to setting foot in, what good does stopping people fleeing from getting killed do?

I understand the idea and even acknowledge there’s the ability for terrorists to blend in with refugees escaping death and traveling to other countries to do harm.  Our politicians are all jumping on that bandwagon that stopping Syrian refugees from coming to America is going to keep us safe.  State governors are saying they won’t accept any refugees from Syria in order to keep their people safe.  Some politicians have what I would call dumbass reasoning, but that’s their prerogative to do so.  They represent the people who elected them.  I offer a short list of names to these politicians:

  1. Christopher Lee Cornell
  2. Daniel Patrick Boyd
  3. Adam Gadahn
  4. Abdul Rahman Yasin
  5. Anwar Al-Awlaki
  6. Omar Hammami
  7. John Walker Lindh
  8. David Headley
  9. Colleen LaRose aka “Jihad Jane”

If any of the names sound familiar, that’s because they’re all terrorists or have been arrested for terrorist-related plots.  They were not Syrian refugees.  They were not even immigrants.  They were all Born-In-The-USA Americans, every last one of them.  Stopping immigration would not have stopped them.  Shutting the borders would have done nothing.

I’m not posting this to suggest that nothing can or should be done.  My point is that irrational reaction does nothing to make any of us safer than we were the day before yesterday.  I’d even go as far to suggest that caving to anti-immigrant and/or anti-Muslim rhetoric does more to aid terrorists in indoctrinating new terrorists than anything we can do to stop them.  Our irrational reactions do more to aid and comfort the true enemy than what we realize.

Bombs and bullets cannot kill ideas.  I am a firm believer in that.  One idea can only be defeated by another idea.  For example, we defeated Hitler’s Germany in WWII, yet Stormfront still exists.  There are still anti-Semitic, White Supremacist organizations around pushing the same ideas that Hitler did with his Aryan Nation idea.  Assassinations and bombings did not stop the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s either.  I can remember hearing about Middle Eastern terrorist organizations when I was in grade school, so it’s not like the current groups originated this whole thing.

We need to stop those who wish to do harm to innocent people, not just us.  It doesn’t matter what nation, religion, or ethnic group those innocent people are a part of.  We have to think about our actions in how we go about fighting these groups because the things we do can end up leading to us having to fight a larger group in the future.  Bullets and bombs are short-term remedies for short-term problems.  In the long run, you can’t bomb an idea out of existence, so we will have to beat the idea with an even better idea if we want to win this battle.  The anti-everything rhetoric isn’t going to be a winning idea when the opposition uses that to further entrench their idea that we’re at war with each other.  Hopefully mankind will soon realize this and change pathways.

Map of cities at risk of terrorist attack in 2015 as compiled in a report by Verisk Maplecroft which was released on May 25, 2015. Click on image for more info.

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16 thoughts on “Rational fear, irrational reaction

  1. Very nice…I try to remember, and I try to remind people, that for every terrorist…no matter what “justification” they espouse…there are MILLIONS who did not do that terrorist act, and who WOULD NOT.
    One small thing: “fight or flight” is not a human reaction, it is the reaction of any living thing. Even bacteria either pull away from, or encompass, an “enemy”. Terrorists play on the flight reaction by trying to induce terror. Anyone who gives into that fear and let’s it control their reactions is giving the terrorists a small victory. When a big population, or a country, gives in to that fear…then the terrorists have won a BIG victory.

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    • I’m with you on the numbers who did not perpetrate these acts and would not do them either. I always find it interesting that some of the very people who broadbrush Islam because of the acts of a few will quickly disavow the religion of a Christian doing the same thing. It’s always the “they’re not a true Christian” excuse that’s given.
      I’m not going to say there are not Muslims that are out to do harm because I’m not that naive. I do know enough to not blame everyone for the actions of a few though.
      btw… My bad on the “fight or flight”. Didn’t consider anything beyond human response when I was writing it. As soon as I read your comment, I remembered biology videos of paramecium and amoebas taking care of business. LOL!!

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      • What interests me is that Muslims say very much the same thing about their extremists that Christians say about extremist Christians…that they’re interpreting scripture too narrowly; that they’re essentially “cherry picking” scripture to fit their own preconceived ideas; that they only see the violence and not the forgiveness…etc, etc

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  2. Just wish there were more Americans willing to get righteous about this. Yeah, my own little social media world has blown up and I see plenty of outrage from my left-leaner acquaintances, but to hear the corporate media “report” this, those voices have been drowned out by those of the fearmongerers’.
    Hate to admit this, but I can really only hope that other news stories overwhelm this one and the right wing aren’t able to milk this any more than they already have. As I type, however, five full days after you posted this, two of the top six stories on the news.google.com feed are related to what we call “terrorism,” so it really hasn’t abated, I don’t think. I don’t believe most Americans have collectively calmed down and tried to think this through a bit more rationally.
    The sooner they do, the better.

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    • I saw that, and think it shows a stark difference between the mindset of some here vs over there. For a group much closer to ground zero of the latest attacks, they seem to be handling things much better than we are here.

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  3. What I always find sad is the ones most fearful are the ones who are supposed to trust in God more than perhaps others. Yet they are terrified of their own shadows…or are they? Do they just play on that fear in others for power? Ideologues are terrifying more than idiots, but not much. They are just more sure they are right.

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