The Real Danger to America

Facts are such inconvenient things.

Over the past year, we’ve seen an upsurge in anti-Muslim animus in the U.S. Protestors and pandering politicians routinely conflate Islam with terrorism; fear of “the other” has generated a whole narrative in which swarthy, suspicious outsiders pose an existential threat to “us”–aka “real Americans.” Anti-Obama partisans evidently think that calling the President a Muslim is somehow a slur.

Of course, the data shows that the real threat looks remarkably like the 50s kid next door.

Leave out gun violence, which endangers us all. Focus just on the actions of crazed religious extremists doing violence within the United States. The perpetrators tend to be pretty pale….and overwhelmingly Christian. Think Ku Klux Klan….

The New York Times reported back in June that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims. Using data compiled by New America, a Washington Research center, a study found that 48 people have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim—including the mass killings in Charleston, S.C.—compared to the 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists.  However, this does not factor in yesterday’s tragic shooting or less publicized incidents like the Las Vegas couple who murdered two police officers and left a Swastika on one of the bodies.

Why do I think that facts, data and objective reality won’t make any difference to the people who  gather to protest the building of a mosque, or continue to insist that President Obama is a Muslim?

Because racism and bigotry are impervious to reason.


  1. The problem with presenting facts in our current culture is that there are many other sources to get the “facts” that one wants to hear.

    I have a friend from college who posts almost daily on Facebook about her disgust with President Obama; the horrible things he has done as president and of course he is a Muslim! We had a discussion at a lunch recently where I asked her exactly what were the terrible things Obama had done and like many of his critics she cites her sources of “facts” as Fox News, Glen Beck and Alex Jones and his Infowars. She continued on to be outraged that Obama was a Muslim. So I asked why the religion of Obama or any president for that matter would be a concern for anyone and again, the sources of her anger were Fox News, Glen Beck and Infowars.

    My friend and many people seek the information that they want to hear and the information that makes them feel better; and Fox News, Glen Beck and Alex Jones delivers that to the rural, red state white people over 40 and they eat it up.

    Ezra Kline reported on his site Vox that the number of gun deaths far exceeded the number of deaths by terrorists but our country spends billions of dollars to fight terrorists and hides in fear of a discussion about gun control. My friend from college won’t read this, my parents who are rural residents, white and way over 40 won’t read this, and many of the people I work with in a rural republican country just northwest of Indianapolis won’t read this because it’s not the facts they want to believe. They prefer their own little bubble.

    I have to end this post now – the Rachel Maddow show is about to start, and I never miss it. 🙂

  2. People don’t need much of an excuse to be mean to each other…skin color or religious beliefs are as good as any.

  3. Theresa Kendall; 3-4 years ago I received an E-mail, passed on to me by a friend from almost 60 years ago when we were neighbors in New Whiteland, IN…very aptly named at that time. She had received the E-mail from our former neighbor, still living in New Whiteland, it contained 24 accusations against President Obama. I spent four days researching many sources for facts, including researching sources for the source’s facts. My greatest surprise was NOT in the amount of information available debunking all 24 accusations but in the numerous posts and many professional looking formats with the same word-for-word 24 accusations against President Obama. I condensed the original accusations and added the information I had found repeatedly disproving all 24 bits of ugly nonsense…never received a reply regarding the facts I provided.

    That was our last political discussion but I did send a separate E-mail telling her that the husband of the friend who sent her the message was a severe racist; we had grown up in the same west side neighborhood in Indy, a fact that I knew first-hand. I also told her that the husband, when I panicked after the announcement of President Kennedy’s assassination and ran to tell them, said to me, “Someone should shoot all the Kennedys.” Her response was that she didn’t believe me because she had never seen that side of him. You cannot relay facts to brick walls…no matter how intelligent or loving and kind they are or how many “good works” they do for others – others of their choosing. She opted to believe the friend who agreed with her; a brick wall I couldn’t penetrate.

  4. Some people believe they are entitled to be first in every line. Hating others to them as a means of establishing superiority is what life is about.

    Muslims and blacks and others bear the brunt of that misogyny by looking different, being distinctive.

    I believe that that entitlement culture will go the way of slavery as communications technology brings about in fact what has always existed – one world.

    We’re way more the same than different.

    As the news tells us every day everyone’s enemy is extremism and every culture has extremists. The middle of the road is where tolerance lives.

  5. Killers come in all colors and religions – Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics et al. For instance, the man who blew up the Oklahoma City federal building and killed (as I recall) 149 people was not only a Christian but a veteran. The local banker who is president of the Rotary Club may kill his wife etc. The problem is not what the church, mosque or temple puts out but rather the brains of the weirdoes in digesting it to fit his/her “poor me” situation.

  6. Ignoring inconvenient facts is also done at all sides of the political arena. On a previous post, I had a dialogue with Nancy and cited liberal sources for my statements on two separate occasions. No response to either. I have a number of sites I follow specifically to guard against a narrow mind. The common thread in all of those sites is how few liberals will actually engage in conversation. I am very opinionated but still can be influenced by others. I have engaged this group because most seem more thoughtful than U-Cubed. You need to realize that not all conservatives are mind-numbed robots

  7. Teresa, all of that ignorance and bigotry isn’t just in rural, red America. It is in the cities and suburbs too. It is in the board rooms, the country clubs, the law firms, the church pulpits, the youth groups, the law enforcement agencies. The narrow minded were raised that way, stayed that way and have not reason to change. They always find like minded folks to pal with, to support each other, to help them keep up their factless view of the world. How to break the cycle of generational bigotry? EDUCATION! PUBLIC EDUCATION!

  8. SHEILA!



    You finally come around to talking about a real domestic issue, and you again spin it away from a real truth that might be useful to examine.

    Cops have killed way more Americans in America than terrorists have

    Cops are the real killers, the most dangerous element of society, a horribly violent group that kills every single day, but you continually leave them untouched. Continually. Always.

    But you will take any opportunity to encourage the dilution of White Western Europeans as the true American stock .

  9. Hi Shelia
    I recently posted this on Facebook.
    I’ve decided to adopt a “shut up” policy on Facebook and if I violate it please reprimand me. A large majority of Republicans think that either Donald Trump or Ben Carson is fit to be President. A large majority think the climate change is a hoax. A majority think that President Obama is a Muslim. I can see no way to have a meaningful discussion with this complex of thoughts. I am mindful of the concerns that Marilynne Robinson has expressed so well, that Democracy depends at it roots on a recognition that the person on the other side of an issue is a “child of God” and worthy of consideration as a human being. I note that some of my acquaintance who are most ardent in their protestations of religious piety offend this principle with regularity, but that is their problem, I can’t make it mine. So I will try and bite my tongue and if I don’t poke me. I know Ardy will.

  10. Ken, if what you say is true, then you and I could be fast friends. I feel that same way about maintaining an open mind, and I am very liberal. The problem we face are people who are not only uneducated but prefer ignorance. In my opinion there people like that of all stripes, but far more of them in America are conservatives/Republicans. Surely you would agree that the truther/Fox/Rush/Infowar crowd are not rational people.

  11. I watched an interesting program on the Civil War recently. The person giving the lecture mentioned the poor whites even though they may be exploited by the 1% of that era, knew through the institution of slavery and later Jim Crow the poor white would never be at the bottom.

    The 1% has been clever in continuing to exploit the differences among us in the 99%. The goal for the 1% is to maintain their power, by dividing us up. We may have differences but the 1% have tried to create chasms between us.

  12. Ken, I think that Bart put it very well. I’ve been looking for sometime to engage someone in a discussion of the intellectual basis for conservatism vs liberalism. I’ve tried to describe here what I believe is the intellectual basis for liberalism, inadequately I’m sure, but at least as a starting point for discussion. My frustration is that nobody responds in kind for conservatism. It’s typically presented as a faith, an assumption that conservatism is desireable not based on fact and evidence but more or less an assumption that feels right to those who make it.

    Can you describe the intellectual basis?

  13. Bart & Pete, I am open to discussions and check my facts (sometimes after I have posted them). I would not lump all liberals into a single category anymore than I would conservatives. Are there drones who listen to Rush, Alan Colmes, etc? Yes! Do people misrepresent things on the web? Certainly! My basic premise is that until the polarization is countered with reasoned discussion, that we are doomed to a Chris Matthews/Sean Hannity style of screaming match and nothing is accpmplished. Pick a topic and I’m in

  14. “Surely you would agree that the truther/Fox/Rush/Infowar crowd are not rational people.”

    Surely, you will agree that MSNBC,, the ACLU, the Democratic Party and every liberal writer or voter is a deeply damaged person who only votes Democrat because there is something seriously wrong with the person and that they are confused about and resentful of good and bad, right and wrong and normal and abnormal.

    Weak troll, troll.

  15. The real danger to America? I’d say that Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo summed it up rather succinctly, “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”

    The happy owners of the ‘truth’ whether ultra-conservatives or ultra-liberals continue to beckon and lure the clueless masses with their individual propaganda machines which amount to nothing more than media-hyped invitations, “Jump on our bandwagon, and life will be good.”

  16. My question is not issue oriented as much as philosophy oriented. My observation of conservatives is that they are anti progress which is to say past rather than future oriented. Also individual and hierarchically oriented rather than connection and network oriented. Also cost saving rather than investment Oriented. Would you agree?

  17. One other distinction would be in favor of capitalism even in the absence of competition rather than socialism? Why?

  18. Pete! I would not presume to speak for others, but I am not opposed to progress, but never ready to assume newer means better automatically. I am not sure what you mean by cost saving vs investment. I assume you have no interest in wasting money and I also do not assume that all spending is investment. I want to apply some evaluation to all government expenditures. If a program is ineffective, evaluate and modify to try to improve. I think too much has been left to the bureaucrats who don’t care that they are spending others’ money. JFK said we needed to spend more than we were on poverty to lift people out. I can get behind that approach, but 55 years with no change in poverty rate leads me to want to hire an efficiency expert. I am very upset about the crony capitalism with a few ultra large companies but establishment politicians on both sides are guilty of this “crime”! As for the choices you offered between monopolistic capitalism and socialism, I must say neither is too appealing, but of those two very poor choices, I would rather trust capitalists with a profit motive than bureaucrats with a God complex

  19. “I think too much has been left to the bureaucrats who don’t care that they are spending others’ money.”

    “I would rather trust capitalists with a profit motive than bureaucrats with a God complex.”

    Except for these two sentences you sound middle of the road.

    As for these two they are faith based conservatism. There’s no data that says that government workers, what you call bureaucrats, are any different than corporate workers. Profit is always an extra expense but is controlled only by competition. In the absence of competition profit motive is a license to steal.

    That’s why regulation and competition are the only things that allow capitalism to work and over the long term progressive taxes are necessary to prevent runaway wealth inequity.

    Glad to read the middle of the road stuff. It’s a start.

  20. Sheila: I didn’t see the article you referenced. But, were most (or all) of the deaths gun related? If so, shouldn’t we discuss a reasonable gun control strategy? Could we de-fuse the 2nd amendment argument by acknowledging that in this world at this time, we are not a militia. We are not armed to protect our state/country from attack by the British. We’re armed because we have been told over and over it’s our right to be armed and the 2nd Amendment overrides every other amendment. And the statistics are piling up with the defense always that guns don’t kill people, etc. etc. Someone has to crack that rock and get a civil dialog started that can address our appetite for violence against minorities and everyone else.

  21. I don’t know any liberals who don’t appreciate capitalism properly applied. I don’t know any conservatives who appreciate socialism properly applied which accounts for 1/3 of our GDP. It should be more. Health care is such a mess now that it’s totally obvious America can’t afford the capitalist non system.

    Energy is another sector that struggles to perform under capitalist everyone for himself chaos.

  22. The1973 oil embargo complete with WWII style has lines led to the department of energy so that the federal government could bring us energy independence. At its inception the U.S. Used about one third foreign oil. Up intil the North Dakota oil fields opened up (3 decades later) our dependence grew to 3/4. If that is an example of government efficiency, no thanks to socialism. Is the VA a sample of the effectiveness of single payer? Frankly, I cannot think of an example where government take-over of any aspect of any economy has improved much of anything.

  23. Pete! Just to follow up. There are myriads of problems with single-payer health care. See the LA Times article “dirty little secrets about universal health care”.

  24. A detail Ken. Our energy and health care sectors are unaffordable. It’s that simple. Capitalism has no solution. They both require a systemic approach which capitalism is unable to deliver. There are always problems Ken. In every approach. The problems of non-competitive capitalism are fatal. The problems of socialized non-competitive markets are matters of design. They can be fixed.

    It slays me that you of the conservative faith pretend to be cost oriented but think that 2X healthcare costs are ok. And rebuilding civilization to adapt to climate change consequences is affordable.

  25. Gopper

    “True American Stock”? I’ll give you that. But give me this. Americans are Europeans whose roots can easily be traced to a mutated tribe that abandoned the paradise of Mother Africa thousands of years ago in order to go forth and f*** U* the world.

  26. Ken!!! Ken!!! Ken!!!

    First, I will address your rudeness – when you type someone’s name and follow it with an exclamation point you are being extremely aggressive and rude. I hope you realize that it is the same as pointing your finger in someone’s face. Did your parents fail to teach you any manners? I hope by reading your name followed by exclamation points will give you a sense of your aggressive behavior on this blog.

    Second, I read and did respond to the first site that you posted. I do not spend all day and evening checking this blog to find more posts, so if you posted something else expecting a response from me – get over it! Do NOT accuse me of not being able to engage in conversation!

  27. Energy costs have been in steady decline adjusted for inflation until the government started subsidizing other forms (solar, wind, & ethanol). And of course, ethanol which has a very large carbon footprint for production and distribution has a compounding downside of raising food costs. And corn is not the right product anyway. I have read articles on sugar cane, switchgrass and several other sources of ethanol that are superior to corn, but the farm lobby has republican and democrats voting for programs that are not efficient. Is health care too expensive? Yes! But the medical market in this country has been dominated by government (between Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA). Was there (is there) a need for reform? Certainly! I am deeply offended by an inept Congress aptly described by Speaker Pelosi’s infamous quote, “We have to pass ACA so we can find out what is in it.” ACA is fine for the previously uninsurable as well as the working poor, but at what cost? People lost coverage, lost doctors, and saw premiums skyrocket for worse benefits. Apparently, stress on ER’s has not been relieved. I had several healthy clients with modest income who paid more for high deductible ACA coverage after the got their subsidy than what they were paying for lost coverage. I am in favor of helping the poor, but total cost for healthcare is dramatically worse for individuals and society. So yet another government program that failed to provide most of what it was “designed” to do. Such snafus lead me to wonder why liberals want to give government another chance.

  28. Ken? What can I say. You’ve been taught well by the oligarchs. Foxated. Government they taught you, is always the problem, never the solution.

    Until you can think for yourself using real news and data you’ll always be part of America’s problem and not our solution.

    We’ll work around you.

  29. Just one observation. We gave capitalism health care and energy. Both are now, not surprisingly, unaffordable. Energy because of the consequences of fossil fuel waste greenhouse gases, healthcare because of the monstrous inefficiencies in every person for themselves.

    Conservatism had its chance and now we’re trillions in debt from holy wars, Wall St on steroids, banking failure and tax cuts for the wealthy.

    We can’t afford you.

  30. Pete! Just when we were getting to be friends. You fall back on all of the talking points. Settled science, tax cuts for the rich, everything wrong with the country is because of the greedy 1%, etc. When you give the mind-numbed unsubstantiated response, it is given as fact. Pete, I will back any view with data and learned opinion, but ….

  31. Ken, two points. Unaffordable means that change is necessary. Stop arguing that the only option is to continue to waste money and resources.

    Second there is science that is known to scientists, science that is yet to be discovered and science under investigation.

    The relationship between fossil fuels, atmospheric greenhouse gases and average weather is so well known that it’s standard high school physics and chemistry now. The fact that it’s convenient or inconvenient to any non scientist is completely irrelevant.

  32. Talking points examples, one for each side. For conservatives, government is always bad. For liberals, all would be fine if not for evil, undertaxed rich folks. Stop the insanity. Now to your points.
    There is undoubtedly a link between greenhouse gases and fossil fuel as you state, but the model is horribly flawed as are the polls and poll questions that are reported as settled science (the famous 97%). Furthermore, is it not the height of egocentrism to assume that through eons of climate change before the existence of man, that this climate is best? Warmer temperatures would lengthen growing seasons increasing oxygen production. The Vikings named the worlds largest island Greenland because when they found it, it was lush and green.
    With regard to healthcare, by what contorted logic does making something lots more expensive, make it affordable? There were four proposals offered as alternatives to ACA that the democrat majority in the Congress refused to even consider. They preferred to vote for a plan they hadn’t read which included provisions for premium rebates that 2/3 of the participants were unable to claim without a Supreme Court ruling.
    BTW, the health insurance companies loved this plan be caused it allowed them to charge much higher premiums, increased customer base by tens of millions and guaranteed there could not possibly be any new companies to improve competition (required that most revenue must be distributed as benefits).
    Government programs always have unintended consequences and often they are costly, and too often it appears no one considers those prior to omplemting.

  33. Ken, high school physics. Same energy in. Less out due to greenhouse gas concentration. Where does that energy go? Warming is the only possibility. Also it doesn’t matter that climate changed before. Different causes than fossil fuel waste but usually associated with very long term greenhouse gas concentration changes. Our civilization was built over the last 10,000 years and was adapted to the climate and sea level that was constant all of that time. Now we’re changing it. Now we have to move civilization to accommodate what we created at a cost of trillions. No matter what you wished was true.

    ACA is merely a private insurance marketplace with subsidies for those that business doesn’t choose to pay enough to afford our unaffordable healthcare. It has no impact on healthcare or insurance costs except to require those who can afford it to have insurance.

    The only control of healthcare costs in America is Medicare and Medicaid. Only when every one of us are covered that way will we be competitive with the rest of the world.

  34. Constant climate since man? Really? Ever hear of the little Ice Age in the early 19th century? People were ice skating on the Thames. And what about the lush farm land in Greenland a millennium ago? Contrary to Al Gore’s inconvenient truth, the warming preceded the CO2 rising in prior warming.
    Are you suggesting that the purpose of the Affordable care act was NOT affordable care? How predictably disingenuous of the liberals. Why are you in denial that single payer is not as wonderful as everyone wants to believe? Japanese doctors see 100 patients per day. Canadians are 80% satisfied with their care. But the chronically ill or those needing expensive procedures find themselves on very long waiting lists if treated at all (much like the VA hospitals in this country evidently). You accuse me of being indoctrinated by charlatans but leave no room for the possibility that you might have been fooled anywhere. Far too many politicians do the bidding of those who lobby them, but such sleaze is not limited to one side of the aisle.

  35. Ken. Unaffordable. Both our obsolete every person for themselves healthcare system and our requiring our future selves to rebuild civilization so our present selves have it easy.

    I know how much conservatives love to waste money but unaffordable means we don’t have the trillion$ it will take to keep our heads in the sand.

  36. Pete! Quite a departure from the traditional liberal buy now pay later philosophy, and yet, government spending (and therefore borrowing on the future) has not slowed at all (unless you count the fact that POTUS almost tripled deficit spending and has only recently brought it back to levels he referred to as unpatriotic during the ’08 campaign). Unfortunately, spending like a drunken sailor was the one thing Bush 43 learned from democrats. I am unclear about what future costs you are proposing to curtail given the unfunded liability that is social security, Medicare, and Medicaid that liberals refuse to discuss. If the debate is any indication, it appears a democrat President will actually increase spending dramatically for all of the give always they promised. Please spare me the “raise taxes on the rich” mantra that will fund all of these additional give-aways. Whenever they propose to raise taxes they pretend that increasing tax rates does not modify behavior.

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