Making Terrorism Rare

Following the events of the Boston Marathon bombing, I would like to bring everyone's attention to the fact that terrorism in the United States is so rare that this has become national news, and by extension, international news. Three people were killed in the bombing.

Was the bomb that killed fifteen people in Syria a week ago international news? No. Was the bomb that killed seven people in Afghanistan two days ago international news? Nope. Or how about the one that killed nine the week before that? This is because these are common occurrences.

I'm not saying you should feel bad about it or something. I'm just saying to remember, terrorism in the United States of America is extremely rare. Many folks, upon hearing this assertion, will say that we should be thankful we live in such a safe country and that we should care more about the situation in other countries. Yes, one of the takeaways from this is that we might relate better to foreigners when we consider how different their situation is. But I want us to think even beyond that.

I want you to wonder, "Hey, yeah, what does set us apart? Why is terrorism so rare here?" Certainly terrorism is easy, no? I could find instructions online and have a small bomb within weeks. So why don't I? Why doesn't this happen every day?

I also want us to wonder, "Hang on... if terrorism is so damn rare, why do I have to walk in my socks like an idiot at airport security?" What is this really doing? Is it making me safer?

I want us to be asking really critical questions about why terrorism is rare, and I want that to lead us to ways to make it more rare. Where should we be investing our resources? What kind of security is the most effective?1 And can these strategies be exported to our brethren in other countries, where violence is much more common?

I don't have all the answers; I only have the right questions.


  1. I think a good start is by putting our reliance in good old-fashioned police work, instead of new technologies. And I think it's important for us to realize that as a group, terrorists are dumb, and they make dumb mistakes.
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