Fear of Terrorism Inverse to Actual Threat


As you may have heard, there’s this self-contradicting and rather paranoid dude out there, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who’s holding a Congressional hearing tomorrow on the dangers of homegrown terrorists. Not the Timothy McVeigh, Jared Loughner, or Unabomber kinds of terrorists: the real ones. The Muslim ones. (Cue ominous music here) But King’s hearing isn’t the only one on terrorists in the US: Far from it. From 2004 to 2011 there have been approximately 933 Congressional hearings on terrorism, despite the fact that terrorism only kills around 30 US citizens a year, and that includes Americans killed overseas. Instead, heart disease remains the #1 killer of Americans, killing around 600,000 of us every year. Terrorism, on the other hand, is a negligible death threat. You’re about 45 times more likely to accidentally poison yourself than you are to be the victim of a deliberate terrorist. As a 66-year-old white male, King is much more likely to die from heart disease or cancer than he is from terrorism. But good to know he’s keeping an eye out, just in case.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have concerns about terrorism. Of course we should. 9/11 was a horrible tragedy and we should do what we can to prevent something similar from happening again. But the fact remains that the #1 killer of Americans is at least partially preventable, and we don’t seem to be that concerned about it. At least, not that much compared to terrorism. Charts below.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stat note: Numbers for death chart are as of 2007, most recent year for which US Census mortality data was available. Numbers for Congressional hearing chart are results of Congressional LexisNexis searches.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.