LETTER | Terrorism Concerns in Perspective, 6,000 times more likely to be Struck by Lightning

Dear Editor,

In the wake of San Bernardino, it is clear from published citizen reactions that some Snoqualmie residents fear violence from their Muslim neighbors. But is that fear based on reason or emotion?

Last June in Charleston, the self radicalized shooter Dylann Roof killed nine people at a historic black church. The Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan both quickly supported Roof’s actions and used it as a recruiting tool after the event. While both groups have sworn to uphold American values and Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination has officially denounced them as terrorist extremists.

It would be foolish to stigmatize all American Christians based on the actions of a few.

The mass shooting in San Bernardino was perpetrated by a husband and wife who identified as Muslim. And while they claimed to have committed murder in the name of Islam, virtually all U.S. Muslim groups have denounced such violence as anti-Islamic.   

So it would also be foolish to stigmatize all American Muslims based on the actions of a few.

In the 14 years since 9/11, just about as many Americans have been killed by white extremists (48) as by jjihadists (46). Clearly, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to get better at thwarting terrorist attacks. And they will. But more importantly, we all need to get better at preventing our children from becoming radicalized.

With the U.S. population topping 320 million, U.S. extremists are just a tiny fraction of 1%. Still, they do occasionally commit atrocities. And then we focus on terrorism almost to the exclusion of everything else, despite the fact that as many people have died in car accidents as died on 9/11 – every month since!

So let’s keep things in perspective. You are NOT likely to be killed by a terrorist. You are more than 6,000 times more likely to be stuck by lightning. If you want to worry, below is a list of ways you might meet an untimely demise.  

            Cause of Death                                                   Odds

  • Heart Disease                                                              1 in 6
  • Cancer                                                                           1 in 7
  • Car Accident                                                                1 in 272
  • Lightening Strike                                                        1 in 3,000
  • Plane Crash                                                                  1 in 5,862
  • Terrorist Attack                                                           1 in 20 million

Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk with your Muslim neighbors about your shared concerns, and worry more about the top three?


Peter D. Bullard,  Snoqualmie



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