100,000 Americans Killed by Terrorists

Author: Jeff_Goldblum ,

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  • Jeff_Goldblum
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    The coronavirus has killed over 100,000 Americans.

    Imagine if instead those 100,000 had been gunned down by terrorists. It strikes me as indisputable that people would behave very differently if the 100,000 were killed by terrorists instead of by a virus. Just look how we reacted to 9/11.

    So, what do we make of this?
  • User_2006
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    Well, it is easier to stop a dozen of maleficent persons than a bio-weapon kind of thing. Terrorist attacks are avoidable but Covid-19 attacks are near unavoidable, especially because stupid citizens protests out loud on the town square then tests positive(+). 
  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    If 100,000 Americans had been gunned down by terrorists, the Republican GOP would probably use the event as a justification for the further restriction of already strict immigration laws (especially from Arab countries), just like they did after 9/11.

    On the other hand, right-wing media (such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, among others) has downplayed the severity of COVID-19 to cover for Trump, who supported those who want to end the lockdown, explicitly against the advice of medical professionals nationwide. They also knew that by playing down the seriousness of COVID-19, they could convince their viewers (some of whom have unfortunately lost their occupations) that the lockdown is unnecessary and that the government is deliberately preventing them from working.

    This significantly differed from their coverage of the Ebola outbreak, when Obama was president. Back then they tried to put the nation into a frenzy by claiming that Obama was at fault for not doing enough, despite the fact that there were only 2 deaths from Ebola

    So what do we make of this? A clear takeaway is that catastrophes (such as pandemics) can and will be made into a full-blown issue by conservative pundits when it suits their political narratives. And when it doesn't, they won't think twice about sweeping the issue under the rug. 
  • zedvictor4
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    Q.   When is gunning someone down not terrorism? 

    A.    When one assumes righteousness over others.


    A virus is simply an evolved organism that perpetuates involuntarily, but in a specific way.

    It is unlikely that a virus has any regard of either it's actions or it's temporary host.


    I think that what I make of this is, problems only occur within the human brain.


  • Greyparrot
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    or the further restriction of already strict immigration laws

    Laws are already restricted, which is why there is no America anymore. It's just a chunk of mud anyone on the globe can take a shit on.
  • ILikePie5
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    --> @PressF4Respect
    A clear takeaway is that catastrophes (such as pandemics) can and will be made into a full-blown issue by conservative pundits when it suits their political narratives. And when it doesn't, they won't think twice about sweeping the issue under the rug. 
    Ya what happened to social distancing and lockdowns that the Democrats are preaching?
  • Greyparrot
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    --> @ILikePie5
    Ya what happened to social distancing and lockdowns that the Democrats are preaching?

    What happened to the lawless riots Democrats and Imported thugs are pushing to ensure Trump doesn't drain the swamp?

    What are the Democrats going to do about the terrorist groups supporting Anarchy like Antifa and drug cartels?
  • ILikePie5
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    --> @Greyparrot
    What happened to the lawless riots Democrats and Imported thugs are pushing to ensure Trump doesn't drain the swamp?

    What are the Democrats going to do about the terrorist groups supporting Anarchy like Antifa and drug cartels?
    Rules for Republicans but not for Democrats 
  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @Greyparrot
    Laws are already restricted, which is why there is no America anymore. It's just a chunk of mud anyone on the globe can take a shit on.
    If you think immigration is easy, think again

    If you're talking about crossing the US-Mexico border as an undocumented immigrant, it's even worse.

    Truth is, immigration policies have become increasingly strict, and show no signs of loosening.
    In 1965, though, a combination of political, social and geopolitical factors led to passage of the landmark Immigration and Nationality Act that created a new system favoring family reunification and skilled immigrants, rather than country quotas. The law also imposed the first limits on immigration from the Western Hemisphere. Before then, Latin Americans had been allowed to enter the U.S. without many restrictions.

    ...

    Subsequent laws in 1996, 2002 and 2006 were responses to concerns about terrorism and unauthorized immigration. These measures emphasized border control, prioritized enforcement of laws on hiring immigrants and tightened admissions eligibility.


  • Jeff_Goldblum
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    I feel like I pointed a rocket in one direction, lit the fuse, and watched it veer off in an entirely different direction.

    I'll answer my own question.

    I think this thought experiment demonstrates that government and society do not process threats consistently. 3,000 dead due to terrorist attacks (9/11) seemingly justifies two wars and a complete overhaul of our homeland security apparatus, while the average American doesn't take coronavirus seriously and is willing to flout social distancing orders as they wish.

    Another example: every time there's a school shooting, our political system renews its long-standing (and vicious) debate over gun control. Meanwhile, far more Americans die of obesity every year than from gun violence. Yet, because widespread public health problems rack up body counts slowly and quietly, they are overshadowed by the flashy, high-profile tragedies.

    Basically, our policy process disproportionately focuses on acts of violence and other high-profile crises, neglecting more serious systemic threats to our collective well-being. Or to put it another way, our policy process is guided by emotions rather than a moral framework applied logically and consistently.
  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @Greyparrot @ILikePie5
    Ya what happened to social distancing and lockdowns that the Democrats are preaching?

    What happened to the lawless riots Democrats and Imported thugs are pushing to ensure Trump doesn't drain the swamp?

    What are the Democrats going to do about the terrorist groups supporting Anarchy like Antifa and drug cartels?
    There were riots. They happened. I don't agree with them. This is completely irrelevant to the points made in my original post (namely, that conservative media downplayed the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak). 

  • Dr.Franklin
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    they are completely separate things
  • ILikePie5
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    --> @PressF4Respect
    namely, that conservative media downplayed the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak). 
    Where you see downplaying, I see optimism and hope.
  • Jeff_Goldblum
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    What are separate things? 100k dead by virus and 100k dead by terrorist?
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    because a virus is invisible, a terrorist attack happens, people rebuild and go to work next week, people in a  virus spend months inside to not get it tearing them apart. terrorism is also a A VS B in human terms where the virus is A as all humans and nations vs B the virus, this no business in cooperation against the virus, tearing brown countries apart and Toyota is filthy rich.it has always been like that and will stay like that till the end of humanity
  • Jeff_Goldblum
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    --> @Dr.Franklin
    Well, let me be a little more clear.

    Say the coronavirus presents X level of threat to each individual American. X represents the percentage chance coronavirus will kill you, or someone you know.

    Now, for the purposes of this thought experiment, say terrorists operating in the US also pose X level of threat to each individual American. In other words, suppose that a group of terrorists poses the same threat to the safety of Americans as coronavirus does. Even under these conditions, we can expect that Americans would take the terrorists more seriously than the virus, even though the former is no more dangerous than the latter.

    With these facts in mind, hopefully my point is clearer: the policy process does not evaluate risk in a consistent way. The source of the risk creates an emotional reaction which affects our response. We have a stronger emotional response to acts of violence and other high-profile tragedies, whereas we have a weaker emotional response to slow-moving causes of death, like viruses or heart disease.

    Simply put, our policy process is guided to a significant extent by emotions rather than by cool-headed assessments of risk to our livelihoods.
  • Dr.Franklin
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    its a fact of human life

    a terrosit attack is quick and boom, money
  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @ILikePie5
    Where you see downplaying, I see optimism and hope.
    Saying COVID-19 is "just like the common flu" isn't optimism, nor is it hope. 

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    I feel like I pointed a rocket in one direction, lit the fuse, and watched it veer off in an entirely different direction.

    I'll answer my own question.

    I think this thought experiment demonstrates that government and society do not process threats consistently. 3,000 dead due to terrorist attacks (9/11) seemingly justifies two wars and a complete overhaul of our homeland security apparatus, while the average American doesn't take coronavirus seriously and is willing to flout social distancing orders as they wish.

    Another example: every time there's a school shooting, our political system renews its long-standing (and vicious) debate over gun control. Meanwhile, far more Americans die of obesity every year than from gun violence. Yet, because widespread public health problems rack up body counts slowly and quietly, they are overshadowed by the flashy, high-profile tragedies.

    Basically, our policy process disproportionately focuses on acts of violence and other high-profile crises, neglecting more serious systemic threats to our collective well-being. Or to put it another way, our policy process is guided by emotions rather than a moral framework applied logically and consistently.
    This is a good observation, and it is a huge blind spot of humans in general. Even within the school shooting debate, look at the type of guns focused on. 'Long guns', or 'assault rifles' are an object of constant fixation and terror, with numerous frenzied attempts to regulate them. But if you look at countries that do have tight gun control laws, and base policy on a more accurate risk assessment, the most heavily regulated categories of gun are not semi-automatic rifles or even shotguns. It's handguns. This is because semi-automatic rifles are involved in a tiny sliver of overall gun deaths, with handguns being used in the overwhelming majority. The reason for this is simple; handguns are easily concealable and more widely owned. But gun control advocates are fixated on so-called 'assault rifles' because of reasons that have nothing to do with a rational avoidance of risk. Reasons that would probably be more efficaciously explored through Rorschach tests or on the psychoanalyst's couch.

    It reminds me a bit of an excerpt from a fantasy novel which I once read, in which an artificial intelligence responded to being asked whether it dreamed:

    'I am a calculating machine which has calculated how to think. I do not dream. I have no neuroses, no hidden depths. My consciousness is a growing function of my processing power, not the baroque thing that sprouts from your mind, with its hidden rooms in attics and cellars.'

    It's a central problem of applying any utility calculus to human action. Humans aren't machines, however much some of us may want to make them so. We have different perspective, shifting biases, subdued emotional structures that direct and guide not just our actions but the very ways in which we process information and make decisions. Even (or perhaps, especially) the would-be tinkers of mankind, who seek to 'fix' these defects, are hopelessly lost within them. It's as Eric Hoffer once wrote:

    'The sick in soul insist that it is humanity that is sick, and they are the surgeons to operate on it. They want to turn the world into a sickroom. And once they get humanity strapped to the operating table, they operate on it with an ax.'
  • ILikePie5
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    --> @PressF4Respect
    Saying COVID-19 is "just like the common flu" isn't optimism, nor is it hope. 
    Then you and I fundamentally disagree.
  • Jeff_Goldblum
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    I love your point about assault rifles vs handguns.

    Let me take the question a step further, if I may.

    Assuming that we're correct - that is to say, assuming that our policy process is guided to a great extent by emotion rather than by the logical assessment of threats, how should that affect our appraisal of various public policies?

    Let's take gun control vs the obesity epidemic. Even though gun violence kills far less than obesity, we focus on the former to a greater degree. Does that make it wrong for people to push for gun control?

    One could justify a "yes" response by arguing: it is wrong to focus on gun control when there are more serious issues (i.e. obesity epidemic) left unresolved.

    One could justify a "no" response by arguing: we have to operate within the constraints of our policy system. So, if high-profile gun violence tragedies generate more political momentum than a slow-moving, partially invisible obesity epidemic, we should do the most good possible by capitalizing on gun violence's political momentum, rather than waste our efforts on an issue (obesity) that has no political traction.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @Jeff_Goldblum
    Assuming that we're correct - that is to say, assuming that our policy process is guided to a great extent by emotion rather than by the logical assessment of threats, how should that affect our appraisal of various public policies?

    Let's take gun control vs the obesity epidemic. Even though gun violence kills far less than obesity, we focus on the former to a greater degree. Does that make it wrong for people to push for gun control?

    One could justify a "yes" response by arguing: it is wrong to focus on gun control when there are more serious issues (i.e. obesity epidemic) left unresolved.

    One could justify a "no" response by arguing: we have to operate within the constraints of our policy system. So, if high-profile gun violence tragedies generate more political momentum than a slow-moving, partially invisible obesity epidemic, we should do the most good possible by capitalizing on gun violence's political momentum, rather than waste our efforts on an issue (obesity) that has no political traction

    I don't think that public policy really works this way. We think about politics in this head space where there are conditions, conflicting policies which affect those conditions, and consequences down the lines. People take different stances about the nature of all of those questions, and line up behind different policy prescriptions. But this idea of policy is a fiction, because policy (and government) are human endeavours. This means that not only are the conditions complex, the complexities of the implications and consequences are often incredibly complex (it's well-captured by the idea of fat tails in risk management - https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/fat-tail-risk-what-it-means-and-why-you-should-be-aware-it-2015-11-02). So you can't simply set down policy as a prescription and watch the results as you would in a simulation and model, you have to build a political structure which can flexibly respond to unexpected hiccups in implementation of potentially disastrous, unforeseen consequences.

    I feel like in the US we talk about politics in this super simple way of pro-this, anti-that which is completely detached from reality. It is difficult, because of our biases and limited awareness of the world that surrounds us, to even fully understand the past. But a policy prescription is a plan for the future, and so if we want to actually change the world for better we need to pay attention to the effects of policy as it is implemented and change course as conditions demand. Being able to do this is a hallmark of great leaders, and I think that it's far more politically effective to propel people who share one's ideology, and are competent, into influential position than to advocate for policy. I think that decades of policy-focused advocacy, in lieu of movement building, has left America with a terminally corrupt, incompetent, and anti-populist government which implements precisely the opposite policies for which the American people advocate, to disastrous effect. Look at obesity. It's tied to things like food deserts (distribution/capitalism), agricultural policy (capitalism, corruption, environmental degradation, economies of scale), and culture in the worst afflicted areas (literally tied to everything). Gun rights are inextricably tied to not only questions of identity, culture, and crime, but penetrate to the very marrow of political theory (how is force, and its application, structured within the political system?).

  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @ILikePie5
    Tell me what's hopeful or optimistic about saying COVID-19 is just like the flu.

    It misleads people into thinking that it isn't a big deal, thus encouraging them to live their lives as normal. This would inevitably lead to a greater death toll than the US already sees.


  • ILikePie5
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    --> @PressF4Respect
    Tell me what's hopeful or optimistic about saying COVID-19 is just like the flu.
    I can’t help you see something that you won’t. We just see things differently.
  • PressF4Respect
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    --> @ILikePie5
    If you think lying to viewers about the extent of a serious disease constitutes hope and optimism, then you are sadly mistaken. Oh well...