America needs to deal with it’s terrorphobia to win the war on terror and Americans are incredibly paranoid about terrorism.
Gallup’s latest polling for 2016 has found that 51% of Americans are at least somewhat worried that themselves or a family member will fall victim to terrorism, showing that half of America has the idea that another terrorist attack is not only a constant threat to the nation but also our families. For it to be a phobia, an extreme or irrational fear of something, we need to look at how much of a risk terrorism really is to the everyday lives of Americans.
Considering that more people have died annually from thunderstorms than terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, the ‘irrational fear’ that goes into being a phobia is fairly evident. To have hundreds of millions of people fearing for their families over a threat that’s hundreds of times less likely than mundane everyday accidents like car crashes.
Using the info from the Global Terrorism Database there were just 61 Americans killed by terrorism, less than the number of Americans who are killed by tornadoes annually on average.
Even though the last two years have been exceptional with larger-scale attacks such as the shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando, it doesn’t change how rare it is for Americans to fall victim to a terrorist attack, with more than twice as many people being killed in the recent California warehouse fire as in the San Bernardino attacks.
None of this is to say that these attacks aren’t terrible; any loss of innocent life is a tragedy. But the sheer scale of paranoia that afflicts America with regards to terrorism is a failure as a nation, as it’s a sign that terrorism has succeeded in one of its definitive goals.
The FBI defines terrorism as such: “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Through this ever-present fear that many Americans experience, it’s clear that in at least one aspect, the intimidation of the people, terrorism has been proven effective. The only way to move forward as a country is to prevent future attacks wherever possible, but to also recognize them for what they are: lone incidents that are designed to inspire fear; rarities in everyday life, that don’t pose the threat many believe they do.