The Enemy Within

By Cyberquill 06/05/20175 Comments

Donald J. Trump’s “travel ban,” which he has now officially doubled down on calling it, may well be a most ineffective anti-terrorism measure for a variety of reasons, not to mention of questionable constitutionality.

Hands-down the oddest argument against it, though, is the oft-floated prediction that such a ban would do little to prevent the escalating problem of “home-grown” attacks, since these attacks are carried out not by immigrants and refugees from Muslim nations but by the—already natural-born—offspring of immigrants and refugees from Muslim nations.

On what logic is pointing to the threat posed by the second generation a rational argument in favor of admitting more of the first?

There are, of course, rational and compelling reasons for admitting more of the first, such as basic humanity and a moral obligation to help, even at the expense of sacrificing some of our physical security by offering others far more physical security than they’re used to. It may not be entirely outlandish to ask why we, owing to nothing but the geographical birth lottery, should be exempt from experiencing an occasional taste of the kind of violence that is par for the course in other parts of the world. What makes us so special that we ought to have a right to enjoy a level of safety unattainable to others?

But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we are not sacrificing some of our security by extending a helping hand to a people an ever so tiny percentage of whom appear extraordinarily susceptible to the peculiar notion that blowing up a mall will take them to paradise. (Keep in mind that one eighth of one percent is 1,200, and consider the national security challenge posed by even a paltry few hundred jihadist time bombs merrily plotting away in your country, be it the size of Germany or as large as the United States.)

In related news, earlier today, British Prime Minister Theresa May, campaigning for the general election she has called to be held on June 8th, said the most perplexing thing:

[W]hen this campaign started [i.e., a few weeks ago] we could never have predicted the tragic turn that events would take. We could never have imagined the appalling depravity that led a cowardly and callous killer to target innocent men, women, and children in the way that we saw in Manchester two weeks ago; nor could we have envisaged the brutal attack carried out on the streets of London on Saturday evening. “

Walking the streets of Manhattan in the hours immediately following the collapse of the twin towers, I vividly recall the stunned expression of shock and surprise in the eyes of the people I passed; faces that had “Oh my God, what just happened?” written all over them.

And even back then there already had been a failed attempt to topple the towers by means of a truck bomb some ten years earlier, so the 9/11 attacks, spectacular and gruesome as they were, struck a bit less out of the blue than they would have if Islamic terrorism had been an entirely unprecedented phenomenon at the time.

But now, almost sixteen years and dozens of grisly terror attacks on Western soil later, always as depraved as they come and targeting innocent men, women, and children; and in the midst of a seemingly never-ending “war on terror,” with threat levels constantly being raised, slightly lowered, and then raised again every hour on the hour; what does the Prime Minister mean when she says that attacks of the very nature as have been visited upon London in the past two weeks could “never have been” predicted, imagined, and envisaged?

What’s there not to predict, imagine, and envision?

If, in this day and age, you can’t predict, imagine, and envision that one or more nutty jihadists might blow themselves up in a crowd at any moment, or mow down people with a motor vehicle, and/or shoot or stab at passers-by at random, or cause carnage in whatever novel manner yet to be contrived; then what can you predict, imagine, and envision, if anything?

In closing, let us put the threat of Islamist terrorism in perspective, for as The Independent exposed in 2015, “White people are biggest terror threat in the US, report finds.”

The report in question states that, excluding the 9/11 attacks, from 2001 to 2015 only 25% of deadly attacks classified as terrorism (i.e., motivated by political or religious ideology) were executed “by people who claimed to be jihadist.”

A whopping 75% were carried out “by extremists who are not Muslim,” including members of “right-wing, anti-government organizations and white-supremacist groups.”

Of all terrorism-related fatalities in the U.S. during the stated time period, non-Muslims caused 65%, and Islamic jihadists caused 35%.

This indeed appears to show that American non-Muslims are vastly more terrorism-prone than American Muslims.

Unless, of course, one were to complicate matters by adding in the minor fact—which The Independent, presumably for simplicity’s sake, chose to omit— that Muslims (or, more precisely, people who identify as Muslim) make up about 1% of the U.S. population.

Which means that the segment comprising 99% of the U.S. population (including the 62% considered white) committed 75% of domestic terror attacks from 2001 to 2015, and the segment comprising 1% of the U.S. population committed 25% of domestic terror attacks from 2001 to 2015.

So you be the judge of who’s “the biggest terror threat in the US”—probably comes down to a question of overall vs. per capita.

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  • Cheri

    I am suspicious of ” a report says..”
    Please offer your readers a better argument against allowing a travel ban from specific countries that incubate Muslim terrorists.
    Since, purportedly ( based on the one source you cite), it is white people who make up most of the home-grown terrorists, why should we add more potential terrorists?

    • Cyberquill

      My readers, plural? Is there another one?

      Oh, right. I forgot about Richard.

      Speaking of the British, I’m suspicious of The Independent (“The world’s most free-thinking newspaper”) as a whole. My only point for bringing up this particular report (which they cited as presumably authoritative) is that in their eagerness to portray whites as the biggest terror threat in the U.S., they inadvertently demonstrated that American Muslims are the biggest terror threat on a per capita basis, which seems to be a quite powerful argument against adding more Muslims — an argument that The Independent certainly wouldn’t want to be caught dead having made.

      • Cheri

        You do make me think about both sides of a topic. Thank you for your critical thinking. Did you read that many American college students demonstrated poorer critical thinking skills after four years of college?

        • Cyberquill

          Pretty counter-intuitive, isn’t it? One would expect a young person’s critical thinking skills to be sharpened by four years of booze and hooking up.

          • cheri


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