Police officers in New York, which was on heightened alert after the Boston Marathon bombings. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid.)
While the “massive manhunt” continues for a 19-year-old kid in and around Massachusetts, it’s a good idea to step back and remember that terrorism is really just a nuisance. Unfortunately, the near-hysteria that seized the country on 9/11 continues unabated, now provoked by the bombings at the Boston marathon.
Post 9/11, that frenzy led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the passage of the nefarious Patriot Act, the creation of the Northern Command at the Defense Department, the funneling of countless billions of dollars from the Department of Justice and other agencies to law enforcement and police departments around the nation, the setting up of intrusive “police intelligence units” in cities and even small towns, and much, much more.
Now we have to wall-to-wall coverage of a small but high-profile bomb attack that killed three people and injured about 200. Horrible, yes. But it’ll pass.
As John Mueller, the author of Overblown frequently points out, the chances that an American will die in a terrorist attack are about 1 in 3,500,000. Personally, I’m not worried about it. Compare that to the fact that the chance that you’ll die this year in a car accident is about 1 in 8,000. And so on.
Earlier this week, I blogged about the fact that terrorism in the United States is very, very low and declining, from a high point in the 1970s to almost nothing today.
Maybe the young men who carried explosives-packed pressure cookers into downtown Boston on Monday have some murky ties to terrorists in Russia or Chechnya, and maybe they don’t. Maybe Al Qaeda is involved, and maybe it isn’t. But if the sort of mini-terrorism that we saw in Boston is the best that they can do, then it’s hardly a threat of major proportions.
Here and there, a few commentators are making this point. But if you watch CNN, Fox, MSNBC and other television or cable news channels, you’d think it was the end of the world. Happily, Doyle McManus, a veteran journalist, writes this:
As horrible as Monday’s attack in Boston was, the kind of mass terrorism that 9/11 seemed to herald — a wave of bombings in public places — simply hasn’t happened. There have been interrupted plots — in Times Square, on airplanes — but there had been abortive plots before 9/11, too.