Whom Should We Fear?

Among the piles of literature I get, both via snail-mail and online (one of the perks–or perhaps the banes–of being an academic) are the periodic Policy Analysis publications issued by the Cato Institute. Cato, as most of you know, is a libertarian think-tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

I have my disagreements with their economic policy perspective, but they tend to be very good on civil liberties and their scholars, by and large, are intellectually honest.

The most recent issue I received was fascinating. Titled “Terrorists by Immigration Status and Nationality: A Risk Analysis, 1975-2017, it was a thorough compendium showing which terrorists did what and why during those years. (It appears that people who enter on different visa categories pose different risks, which was something I wouldn’t have guessed.)

Terrorism, for purposes of the study, was defined as “the threatened use or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion or intimidation.”

Here are some illuminating calculations from the Executive Summary:

  •  Including those murdered on 9/11, the chances of perishing in a terrorist attack committed by a foreigner on American soil is 1 in 3.8 million per year.
  • The chance of an American being murdered by a refugee is 1 in 3.86 billion.
  • Despite the rantings of our bigot-in-chief, the chance of an American being murdered by a terrorist who is an illegal immigrant is zero. You read that right: zero.
  • But watch out for tourists on B visas (the most common tourist visa). The odds of being killed by one of those guys is 1 in 4.1 million per year.
  • The chance of being murdered by one of our very own, home-grown wackos is 1 in 28 million.

No matter what the category, we really don’t have to fear that terrorists are lurking around every corner. We’re far more likely to be killed by a texting driver or even falling furniture.

Per the Executive Summary:

There were 192 foreign-born terrorists who planned, attempted or carried out attacks on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2017. Of those, 65 percent were Islamists, 18 percent were foreign nationalists, 6 percent were non-Islamic religious terrorists, 3 percent were left-wingers and the rest were separatists or adherents of other or unknown ideologies. By comparison, there were 788 native-born terrorists who planned, attempted or carried out attacks on U.S. soil from 1975 through 2017. Of those, 24 percent were right-wingers, 22 percent were white supremacists, 16 percent were left-wingers, 14 percent were Islamists, 11 percent were anti-abortion, and 6 percent were other.

What really impressed me about the analysis–which contained much more information than I have shared here–were the appendices: Table 12, which listed foreign-born terrorists, fatalities and injuries by the nation of origin, and Appendix 1, which listed every person–foreign or native born– who attempted or committed terrorism on U.S. soil between 1975-2017, and their ideologies.

A scan of those ideologies strongly supports Cato’s conclusion that religion, white supremacy and nationalism drive a hugely disproportionate number of these attacks.

Color me unsurprised.

And watch out for falling furniture.


  1. The Koch’s rely on immigrant workers — especially the kind which work for pennies on the dollar. They’ve been moving away from the Trump administration for over a year. They’ve publicly declared they want MORE immigration.

    What will the Fox Ministry of Propaganda do with this report by Cato?

    The “Evil-doers” don’t exist and they also don’t justify our military excursions or spending.

    America and Israel are the two largest terrorist countries and do vastly more damage abroad than “terrorists” do to the USA.

    Time to withdrawal troops abroad – MAGA – America First and all that jazz!

  2. It’s nice to have numbers, and ones compiled by a group that cannot be labeled “Lefties,” but if the subject were to come up at a White House briefing, Sarah Sanders would write it off as fake news. And The Orange One won’t even bother to criticize it with tweets – that is, if anyone has the courage to tell him about the report.

  3. First and foremost we must fear our own government today; when the sitting body of government in the White House requests removal of the battleship USS John McCain so Trump will not have to see his name while visiting in a foreign country…we have lost any semblance of sane leadership. We must also cast suspicious eyes on those on that battleship who, rather than move the ship, covered the proud name of John McCain, an American war hero, with a tarp to prevent offending our immature appointed president. Can they be depended on in an international crisis brought about by Trump who wants war to fulfill his desire to press that button?

    “We have met the enemy and he is us!

  4. I have been out among the public. I fear the average American: ignorant, fearful, hateful, and stupid.

  5. You give credit to most members of the Cato Institute, Professor, for their intellectual honesty. That is the greatest of compliments. The absence of it causes chaos. When elected officials, military and others swear to uphold and defend the Constitution, without an honest intellectual commitment to its principles, chaos ensues. Intellectual dishonesty allowed, indeed perpetuated America’s original sin. Thus the chaos of racism, nativism, colonialism, terrorism. Between this day and November, 2020, we must winnow the field of Democratic contenders to measure their intellectual honesty and moral conscience.

  6. No matter who we fear, the most irrational thing we can do is let that fear cause us to change what we do or how we do it. As FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

  7. Ignorant, fearful, hateful and stupid describe the majority o commentators on a daily basis on this page. This is not a partisan opinion but a matter of fact observation.
    I used to come to this page and more often than not would find enlightened and intellectual observations by most of the commentators, to include the author of the page.

    Then the current POTUS ran for election…and won.
    Since then, there’s been a steady erosion of intellect, replaced by the above adjectives in the first place. Seriously, some of you,’including the author, have steadily but increasingly come across as pearl-clutching, frothing spit on your chin senior citizens who live their lives in fear, frustration and hatred.
    In that everyone’s days are numbered, and quite a few of you have much less time ahead of you as opposed to behind, you might seriously try and channel all of that negative energy into uplifting yourself and those you love. Just a thought.

  8. Clearly there are those among us who don’t fear incompetence and corruption in government. Indeed they welcome it as the possibility for power among the “right” groups has never been greater. POWER TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. What a concept Herr Hitler.

    We can’t let such noise distract us from restoring the Constitutional government back to its traditional priority of freedom, self government, democracy based on real news now that we know where pervasive fake news leads.

  9. I don’t know who “George” is, but his characterizations of the author and commenters are so far from reality as to be laughable if they weren’t so frighteningly arrogant. When fact are rejected out of hand and opinion regarded as hysterical fear, respect for anything that follows is gone.

  10. Thanks George for pointing out how comments on this blog have gone sour. However, it is not the comments by those of us opposed to the Trump Administration and the Republican Party that are ignorant, fearful, hate-filled, and stupid. It is the Trump supporters who no longer make any attempt to intelligently argue their case, and instead attack those here who present the truth . Case in point, can you argue intelligently that the facts presented in the blog today by Sheila are not true? Can you present a logical case for Americans to support Trump’s ban on Muslims coming into the country? Can you tell us how to not act when we see pictures of children locked in cages?

  11. George! “Just a thought” If you don’t like the comments made here don’t sign on. I am old but I recognize the evil coming from that creature in the W/H and his equally evil followers. Irvin
    Korea War veteran. I did not have a heel spur.

  12. George,

    Your last line is an oxymoron coming from you. The people who write on this blog actually CARE about their nation and the direction in which it is being dragged by outright criminals and corrupt politicians – often the same thing. NO, the POTUS did not “win” the election. The outmoded electoral college allowed him into office. BIG difference. You should try educating yourself a little before shooting off a mouth backed by little or no information.

    I’m amazed about how many true-believers think that Mueller’s work is a waste of time and money and blaming the Democrats for wasting more time and money actually doing their jobs that are required by the Constitution. I guess being a Republican means you don’t have to follow the law.

  13. Along with our own government – state and federal – it is the Georges and Dan Winrights I also fear. Along with those family members and former friends who ignore facts and applaud the emperor wearing no clothes with each foolish statement he makes and dangerous action he takes.

  14. JoAnn.

    I agree. They’re everywhere and don’t know and don’t care that they don’t know.

  15. Trump supporters like George never can back up their assertions with fact. They marinade in a soup of hate and are incapable of entertaining facts that disagree with their views.

    I expect that he thinks it is ok to cover up the name of a war hero – in foreign waters, no less – so that this morally and emotionally corrupt “president” (with a small “p” – take that however you want) can continue his petty feud with a man who is out of his reach – in *so many* ways. Trump and his horde of flying monkeys like George are all treasonous conspirators attempting to bring down the Constitution.

  16. Hello again George. Seem like fellow readers find you and your words less than likeable.

  17. JoAnn and Verne – They love him because he says and does every stupid thing they’ve fantasized about doing at kitchen tables, diners, and benches for years. To hell with the Constitution as long as they get what they want.

  18. Although I rarely comment, I enjoy and respect the intelligent and informed posts and comments here by people who actually care about our country. This “George” person is clearly not paying attention and doesnʻt do his homework of keeping himself informed. There is plenty of fact-based, verified information readily available, yet somehow he clings to spewing petty insults just like his “winning” orange leader. George, if youʻre so smart, where are your answers to Theresaʻs questions?

    And Irvin, thank you for your service!

  19. Thanks for proving my point, folks.

    Nowhere in my first post did I indicate that I was a President Trump supporter…what I did do was point out the daily screeching, and it is true. To defend your position, you attempt to label me as “one of those” supporters who are “everywhere” and who “can’t be reasoned with”. Whatever it takes to bolster and justify your Trump Derangement Syndrome…you’ve shown that it is indeed a thing, as the kids say.

    Trying to make the world a better place, Vern? That’s funny, coming from a guy who labels everything he sees as evil as being “Republican”. I suggest that in order to persuade someone o your point if view that you re-read Mr. Dale Carnegie’s works..instead of trying to pimp your own literary efforts on an every other day basis.

    Irvin, you are a gentleman, probably one of the more reasonable people on here. To answer your question as to why I should sign in when I don’t like what I see, I comment because I can…and indeed, there should be balance in everything. Just call me Thanks (current pop culture reference). And thank you for your service. I earned a CIB myself 10 years ago.

  20. George,I agree with you. This site has become nothing more than a small group of privileged Caucasians engaging into what is nothing more than recreational outrage.

    Their penchant for outrage is actually a symptom of white-privilege. They’re just too damned arrogant to realize this.

    After all of the virtue signaling,they’ll support the misogynist and racist, Joe Biden….Biden is currently on his “Lock Up Your Daughters Tour” across America. I guess the DNC is going to market him as if he is a rock-star.

    Now,back to our regularly scheduled moment of OMG RUSSIA!!

  21. One more final comment, because I will be taking my own advice to go outside and play/live)
    This applies to all of you who see someone different, talking and thinking differently than you do (JoAnn, Sherry, etc ad nauseaum). You live your lives morally certain that your position or opinion is superior than the other,and you immediately try and shout the different person down, labeling them negattively as being hateful, calling them naness, accusing them of being racist, wanting to turn back the hand of tune, back of the bus, blah blah blah.

    Don’t you see the irony here?
    Your are AN EXACT MIRROR IMAGE OF WHAT you call the other side:. Trying to silence dissonance with fascist-like tactics. And a lot of things you portray as “facts” are often very subjective.

    None of you and your syncopants on this pagecan claim any moral high ground…None. You are exactly like those you hate.
    I feel sorry for you.

  22. Just look at “Geirge’s” spelling, punctuation and sentence structure and realize he’s more to be pitied than scolded.

    “Geirge,” hit the ON/OFF button, go outside now and play in your sandbox with your friends who’ve taken up your pathetic cause here.

    Irvin and others here who served honorably, thank you for your service to America.

    Sheila, special thanks for your patience today with these individuals and their total nonsense.

  23. No Betty, that’s because I’m half blind.

    So fuck you. I’ll match my curriculum vitae with yours anyday.

  24. Again, thanks Betty for trying to mock and negate that of which you know not but differs from you and your thought processes.

    I’d apologize for the profanity but it seems to gave become de rigeur (yesterday’s thread Fuck the planet)…plus you earned it with your hatefulness.

  25. Typically the discussion here is fact and real news based and aimed at restoration of competent Constitutionally centric government as The US prospered under for two and a half centuries.

    That doesn’t suit everyone though. Some have been led to fear the future and long for the good old days when they thought that they were entitled by gender or race or creed or sexual preference or ……..Being only equal threatens them.

  26. We have a very bitter, ignorant and self-absorbed idiot in George. He’s never met an opposing view that he couldn’t disparage and insult. Same goes for Ugly Truth (which it isn’t). You guys should just go find yourselves a nice, calm, rational right-wing blog for mutual “satisfaction”. Oh. Wait. Those things don’t exist. Too bad.

  27. Wow – just checking out the blog today and related comments. I wish I hadn’t….. sad to realize things are much worse than I thought…..so much for civility.

  28. I will never forget looking out my classroom window at the column of smoke rising from downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 @ 9:01 AM Central Time. US born US Army vet so called Christian who called a Baptist preacher his “spiritual advisor”. The local paper, The Daily Oklahoman (we called it the Daily Disappointment) falsely claimed there were “two Mid-Eastern looking men” as the primary suspects.

  29. BTW, George or what ever your name is, just go away and post on Storm Trooper or similar site where you can enjoy all the atta boys you’ll receive.

    Just in case you’re wondering I’m a disabled Vietnam Vet who went from E-1 to E-5 (Petty Officer 2nd Class, same as an Army Sergent) in 3 years and 3 months. After my Honorable Discharge I went on to earn an AS in Quality Control, a BS in Industrial Technology, a MEd in secondary education and finally a doctorate in Occupational & Adult Education (workforce development). I earned tenure and have 2 dozen peer reviewed publications plus numerous regional, national, and international conference presentations. Now what were you saying about a curriculum vitae?

  30. I read all the comments with special attention to posts admitting to being fearful. These are all that I found:

    First and foremost we must fear our own government

    I fear the average American

    Along with our own government – state and federal – it is the Georges and Dan Winrights I also fear.

  31. OK “George/Geirge” still hasnʻt answered any of Theresaʻs questions and keeps resorting to insults. Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, it seems one of your hobbies is to screech at us “pearl-clutchers.” Maybe itʻs time to move on George, and leave us be.

    PS: Vernon is one of the more erudite commenters here, and I look forward to his posts.

  32. Because discretion is the better part of valor (or decency), I shall move forward from the most indecent indecency from yesterday. It serves no high purpose to keep that stuff going.

    It is truly sad, Linda. Move on from it.

    Thanks, Stan and SH, for stepping forward for all of us who recognize boundaries.

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