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Words from Winterbilt

The (new) fear of terrorism

Shannon Bohrer

(4/2015) Things have changed since 1911. If the attackers on that day wanted us to be afraid, or fearful on an everyday basis, maybe they were successful. It seems like every day we hear something on the news about terrorism, the ISIS and al-Qaida threats along with the kidnappings of Boko Haram. On a somewhat regular basis we are informed of gruesome deaths at the hands of the terrorist. We also have some elected political leaders, although some would question the word "Leaders," that dwells on our lack of leadership in combating the threats. Some of the same politicians believe that if we had a stronger leader we would have more allies and we, the United States, could defeat the dark lords of the world. Really!

Personally, I question the idea that the threats are new. Terrorism, either by individuals, groups and even countries has existed in all of our written history and that includes the United States. I also question why we donít examine, or at least look at other things that threaten us. Terrorist is bad, but we can die from a lot of other things. I also question the idea that simple solutions can resolve some of the problems.

Terrorism is not new, a short history of terrorism in the United States would include that on September 16 at 12:01 there was an explosion in New York. The blast killed 38 people and seriously injured 143 and several hundred more were injured. Most people donít remember the event because it occurred in 1920. At noon on that day a horse drawn wagon stopped at 23 Wall Street. The wagon was loaded with 100 pounds of dynamite and 500 of cast iron weights. The horse and wagon were in bits and pieces and it was believed the driver left before the explosion. The perpetrators were never caught, although they were thought to be anarchist and anti-capitalist. Terrorist bombings are not new.

Prior to the Wall Street bombing there was another bombing of note, this one in California at the Los Angeles Times. The Times published anti-union articles and reportedly ran an anti-union campaign. The Times belonged to the Merchants and Manufacturers Association which favored hiring non-union workers. An Iron workers union from the mid-west was credited with bombing the Times, along with 70 other (Thatís right Ė 70) bombings of factories, bridges and railroads that occurred from 1907 to 1911. The Iron workers in Los Angeles went on strike on June 1, 1910 and the bombing occurred on October 1, 1910, at 1 A.M., causing 21 deaths.

While terrorism is not new it is still a threat. We can all be afraid that we can be injured or killed by terrorism but the numbers tell us that we will die from something else. After all, many of the other threats we face like health issues are long term prospects. Heart diseases often take years to develop so we donít see the threat Ė in our immediate future.

I do think it is wise to examine all potential threats and I believe the government would not be responsible if they did not. But sometimes, it seems we only look in one direction. And when you only focus in one direction you may only see one problem. In 2013 over 2 & Ĺ million people died from heart diseases. Over 130,000 died from accidents, 35,000 of which were motor vehicle accidents. Alzheimer's accounted for 84,767 deaths, Parkinsonís was 25,196 deaths and suicide was responsible for over 31,000 lives lost. Remember, these numbers donít cover everything and they are just for one year.

In our immediate future - we do see terrorism, not medical or other problems. The killings, beheadings and burnings are repulsive and reflect real evil. One news story on ISIS estimated their army to be 30,000 to 50,000, which is a concern. Some have estimated the numbers at twice that. Conversely, while ISIS is over there, we have our own hate groups here, and a good example is the Sovereign Citizens. Sovereign Citizens are estimated to be around 300,000. Sovern Citizens are not unlike many other hate groups, in that they donít believe in paying taxes and they donít believe the federal government has any rights over them. They believe that citizens created under the 14th amendment have no rights. And they also believe that if you have any government issued permit or license the government makes you a 14th amendment citizen. I did not make this up. And, since they donít believe the federal government has any control over them they donít believe they have to obey the laws. Since 2000, 31 police officers in the U.S. have been killed by right wing extremist, in 22 separate incidents.

That does not mean that the threats from foreign terrorism are not real. Between January 1983 and May 2013 there were 3,487 deaths, attributed to their attacks in this country. Of course the majority of them are from the attacks on 911. Since going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 6,800 soldiers have been killed and over ONE MILLION have been injured. The suicide numbers in our military is another issue. Over 20 percent of all suicides in this country are military veterans. The long term consequence for our military involvement in the Middle East is unknown, but we already know it wonít be good.

Do we have an obligation to fight terrorism? I believe we do, but how is the problem. The president of Israel; Benjamin Netanyahn thinks we should be harder on Iran and Iran is in the collation fighting ISIS. He also that told us that if we eliminated Saddam Hussein the Middle East would experience peace. That did not work to well. Saudi Arabia wants us to attack Iran and Syria. They said they fear Iran more than they fear ISIS. On a good note, the Kurdish forces are doing well against ISIS, so they have many strong voices for support. However, with a simple computer search I found 168 terrorist organizations listed by the United States. The Kurdish Democratic Party/North and the Kurdish Workers Party, or the PKK is a terrorist group on that list. It seems that every time we support one group in the Middle East, we annoy and displease another.

The list of terrorist organizations and the dark lords that lead them is very long. Yes, we have an obligation to do something, but the talking heads that have simple solutions are not helping. Where we are today Ė is related to the roads we traveled yesterday to solve yesterdayís problems. Using the same roads and going in the same direction Ė may just make history repeat itself.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer