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May. 3 2010 - 4:40 am | 553 views | 0 recommendations | 5 comments

Jingoism Makes You Stupid

New York is the world’s number-one terrorist target, and has been since at least he first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Bill Burck and Dana Perino

It is certainly true that New York City is a terrorist target, but what can these National Review writers be thinking when they assert that it is the number one terrorist target in the world? In the last decade, there has been one successful NYC terrorist attack, the horrific September 11, 2001 massacre. Here are estimates of suicide bombings in Iraq during this decade: 25 suicide bombings in 2003, 140 suicide bombings in 2004, 478 suicide bombings in 2005, 297 suicide bombings in 2006, 442 suicide bombings in 2007, 257 suicide bombings in 2008, and 76 suicide bombings in 2009.

I am guessing that Mr. Burck and Ms. Perino feel safer from terrorists in Manhattan than they would if they were instead forced to walk the streets of Baghdad, or Israel for that matter, so it’s hard for me to believe that even they take their assertion seriously if they’ve thought about it for more than a moment, but I’ve grown used to absurd assertions like this whenever the subject of terrorism is broached. It seems to cause intelligent people to suspend their logical faculties.


Later in the same post, the duo writes, “For all of its flaws, our justice system and Constitution remain the envy of the world — at least the part of the world that believes in freedom and individual rights.” Again, this is the kind of thing that you expect to see at The Corner, but that makes no sense if you stop to think about it for more than a second. Is Denmark a part of the world where people believe in freedom and individual rights? And how many Danes envy the American justice system? How many Germans, Australians, and Spaniards would say, if interviewed, “Why yes, I am very jealous of the way that the United States handles its criminal defendants, especially the ones accused in the War on Terrorism”?


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  1. collapse expand

    I tend to associate this type of rhetoric with the tendency of many Americans to refuse to look outside of their country for ideas and solutions. Just assuming that everybody envies the US, without checking to see what others have actually got. Like during the health care debate, people decrying the “socialization” of health care, saying a government-run system won’t work… all the while never noticing all the places where it has worked. At most, maybe, putting down the reforms as “Canadian-style” (which they weren’t), without noting that most of the developed world has some kind of public health care. Heck, many undeveloped countries had respectable public health care systems, before the IMF’s “structural adjustments” sent their economies to hell.

  2. collapse expand

    Someone wiser than I once said, “Nationalism is the philosophy of idiots.” Our “patriotism” is simply nationalism writ nice.

    I wonder about nationalism. Why should I be considered a “citizen” because I was born on this piece of dirt my ancestors massacred the original owners for (in 1637) rather than that piece of dirt a few miles north that the Canucks massacred the original owners for?

  3. collapse expand

    those IRAQ numbers may have more to do with accessability than anything else, Colin. I bet if you took a poll using only terrorist subjects and asked where they’d prefer to explode themselves, that one of New York, DC or London would top the selections.

  4. collapse expand

    Me, I’m gonna wait until they catch the guy before I draw any conclusions from it- but, I suppose, pundits who must spout wisdom on a deadline don’t have that luxury. As for the NR writers, if they’d have said that NYC was the HIGHEST PROFILE target, they could have made a good case for that- but it might not have been the best way to draw page-views.

    It seems likely that the perp or perps won’t be breathing free air long- an unexploded bomb can leave a lot of clues behind. Plus, there must be a video-surveillance record left behind that’s a lot more detailed than what’s so far been released. Beyond that, I’ll wait until law enforcement catches up with the bomber(s) before I draw any conclusions. Here’s hoping that they do a better job than they did with the Anthrax investigation.

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    Conor Friedersdorf is a writer, a Californian by upbringing, and a nomad at present. Refresh his page often.

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