Chicago Tribune: We don't need to live with fear

I disagree with Tribune staff reporter Rex W. Huppke’s characterization of terrorism as a new and increasing threat in “Fear of terrorism as a fact of life; Americans have learned to deal with their worries about crime, but they have yet to adjust to a world where terror is an enduring threat” (Perspective, June 25).

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did not represent a fundamental change in the dangers Americans face; rather they reminded them of a threat that has always been present.

This threat of terrorism is and always has been minute. For example, in 2005, the National Counterterrorism Center recorded eight terrorist attacks in the United States. None of them included fatalities or injuries. Indeed all but three consisted solely of property damage by environmental terrorists.

Clearly these statistics give Americans no reason to live in fear.

The fear of terrorism that increased after the Sept. 11 attacks is a fear of so-called “Islamic” terrorism. A review of statistics will also show this fear to be unwarranted. Indeed since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been no attacks attributed to Muslim terrorists. Still whenever a major incident is reported, regardless of its credibility, the media and the public rush to conclude that Muslim terrorists must be behind it–exactly what happened after the arrest of the individuals in Miami–none of whom turned out to associate with any recognized branch of Islam.

When non-Muslims commit terrorism, we do not assume that their faith or lack of faith motivated the attack. Timothy McVeigh, mastermind of the Oklahoma City bombing, the second-most deadly terrorist attack on American soil, was raised Catholic. The attacks did not, however, spark a fear of Catholic terrorism, as the public understands that such attacks are not justified by Catholicism.

It is illogical for the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 to inspire fear of Islamic terrorism, as the attacks are similarly condemned by Islam.

Huppke suggests that the public should learn to not blow individual events out of proportion, just like we learned to do with crime. This is a wise suggestion. Let us appreciate the efforts of federal, state and local authorities to protect us from all terrorism, and not jump to unjustified conclusions regarding followers of any faith. Only then can we learn to live without fear.

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