Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19, 2015--By the Numbers

I noted here previously that the true horror of Paris is not equal to the number killed and wounded.

Yes, 129 were killed outright and another 350 wounded, some critically. And another 224 were killed last month when ISIS brought down a Russian charter jet over the Sinai Desert.

But in other, earlier terrorist actions about as many and sometimes more were slaughtered and maimed.

Thus, in an attempt to keep emotions from overwhelming us, including policy makers, government officials, and the public, it is important to keep things in perspective. I suspect, though he wasn't overt about it, this attempt to contain heated calls to rush to declare World War III, one explanation for President Obama's tepid response is that he was trying to keep his head while others about him were losing theirs and beating the drums of war.

Me included.

Here then is the bloody scorecard--

The terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 killed 161 Americans. Ronald Reagan promptly withdrew all forces from the region. And, tellingly, was not widely criticized for doing so.

In 1998, simultaneously in Tanzania and Kenya two American embassies were bombed. 224 were killed. It was the first time al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were brought to the public's attention.

During the peak of the Madrid morning rush hour, in March 2004, four commuter trains were hit with ten bombs by al Qaeda-inspired terrorists. 191 were killed and another 1,800 wounded.

And then of course, on September 11, 2001, four passenger jets were taken over by al Qaeda jihadists and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and, when passengers fought back, a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania. 2,996 in the planes and workers in the buildings were killed. Another 415 first responders lost their lives.

And then there are deaths of a different sort--

22,000 die annually of drug overdoses. 32,000 die on the highways in car crashes. Another 41,000 commit suicide. 12,500 are killed with legal handgun and assault weapons.

In the latter cases there is no panic, no calls for dramatic action, and certainly no rush to either judgement or retribution. We accept these fatalities as we accept the inevitability of the sun rise and tides. As if they were natural, unremediable phenomena.

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