Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hold Onto Your Underwear

in light of the rekindling of media hysteria following the suicidal plane crash in Austin, it seems to be an appropriate time to put these periodic violent events into perspective…

This Is Not a National Emergency
By Tom Engelhardt

Let me put American life in the Age of Terror into some kind of context, and then tell me you’re not ready to get on the nearest plane heading anywhere, even toward Yemen.

In 2008, 14,180 Americans were murdered, according to the FBI.  In that year, there were 34,017 fatal vehicle crashes in the U.S. and, so the U.S. Fire Administration tells us, 3,320 deaths by fire.  More than 11,000 Americans died of the swine flu between April and mid-December 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; on average, a staggering 443,600 Americans die yearly of illnesses related to tobacco use, reports the American Cancer Society; 5,000 Americans die annually from food-borne diseases; an estimated 1,760 children died from abuse or neglect in 2007; and the next year, 560 Americans died of weather-related conditions, according to the National Weather Service, including 126 from tornadoes, 67 from rip tides, 58 from flash floods, 27 from lightning, 27 from avalanches, and 1 from a dust devil.

As for airplane fatalities, no American died in a crash of a U.S. carrier in either 2007 or 2008, despite 1.5 billion passengers transported.  In 2009, planes certainly went down and people died.  In June, for instance, a French flight on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared in bad weather over the Atlantic, killing 226.  Continental Connection Flight 3407, a regional commuter flight, crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York, that February killing 50, the first fatal crash of a U.S. commercial flight since August 2006.  And in January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, assaulted by a flock of birds, managed a brilliant landing in New York’s Hudson River when disaster might have ensued.  In none of these years did an airplane go down anywhere due to terrorism, though in 2007 two terrorists smashed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane tanks into the terminal of Glasgow International Airport.  (No one was killed.)   

The now-infamous Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his bomb-laden underwear toward Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, had 290 passengers and crew, all of whom survived.  Had the inept Abdulmutallab actually succeeded, the death toll would not have equaled the 324 traffic fatalities in Nevada in 2008; while the destruction of four Flight 253s from terrorism would not have equaled New York State’s 2008 traffic death toll of 1,231, 341 of whom, or 51 more than those on Flight 253, were classified as “alcohol-impaired fatalities.”

Had the 23-year-old Nigerian set off his bomb, it would have been a nightmare for the people on board, and a tragedy for those who knew them.  It would certainly have represented a safety and security issue that needed to be dealt with.  But it would not have been a national emergency, nor a national-security crisis.  It would have been nothing more than a single plane knocked out of the sky, something that happens from time to time without the intervention of terrorists.

And yet here’s the strange thing: thanks to what didn’t happen on Flight 253, the media essentially went mad, 24/7.  Newspaper coverage of the failed plot and its ramifications actually grew for two full weeks after the incident until it had achieved something like full-spectrum dominance, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.  In the days after Christmas, more than half the news links in blogs related to Flight 253.  At the same time, the Republican criticism machine (and the media universe that goes with it) ramped up on the subject of the Obama administration’s terror wimpiness; the global air transport system plunked down millions of dollars on new technology which will not find underwear bombs; the homeland security-industrial-complex had a field day; and fear, that adrenaline rush from hell, was further embedded in the American way of life.

Under the circumstances, you would never know that Americans living in the United States were in vanishingly little danger from terrorism, but in significant danger driving to the mall; or that alcohol, tobacco, E. coli bacteria, fire, domestic abuse, murder, and the weather present the sort of potentially fatal problems that might be worth worrying about, or even changing your behavior over, or perhaps investing some money in.  Terrorism, not so much.

read the rest at Tom Dispatch…


  1. The Nigerian Bomber was destined to fail. It was never meant to succeed. It was A [False flag].
    "Be afraid, be very afraid". Worked well for the W regime, and it will continue under the O Team.

  2. generally, i agree; i outlined my suspicions here...
    there is also evidence that the popuation as a whole has a certain "fear budget", and that such an event tends to focus that fear towards it, and away from the normal concerns...

  3. Michael Crichton wrote a book entitled "State of Fear" that is well worth reading. Based on his premise, the most effective way the Federal Govt has to control we the Sheeples is through fear of some threat that requires Federal protection. We grew up with the Cold War, and nuclear threats. Once the wall was brought down, within months, Global Warming became the fear of the decade. Now that fear has been largely removed due to common sense, but we now have terrorism. I can tell you that Jockey bomber made my life miserable coming back in from London. 100% security checks meant 300+ passengers were body checked-- Sadly, I can tell you that the added security was NOT 100% effective.
    Wouldn't it be lovely to live in a country where States tell the Feds what to do? How to spend, where to spend, where to put our troops? Wouldn't it be lovely to live in a REPUBLIC??

  4. CHESIA: good to see you again.
    The MIC can not thrive with out an enemy. Problem is that we have become our own worst enemy. We feed off of each others fears. Fear hides in a bed of lies. If the truth were exposed, most fears would go away.

  5. Hey RZ - I'm around-- :D

    I know you're right- This many-headed Medusa won't be killed- ever, I'm afraid- Whenever I dare to suggest State Sovereignty I am met with total incredulity and a thousand reasons why it could never work.

    Seems to me what we've got isn't working-- could it BE much worse??
    And what's that definition of insanity?? ; ) Repeating the same action over and over, expecting a different result??

  6. Hi RJ. I promised I would make it by here, and I'm sorry it took so long.

    This article is excellent, because it puts the incident in its proper perspective. Onr of my favorite is that fourteen 9/11s of people are killed every year due to their inability to obtain proper health care.