Shortly before leaving America for Britain, after 12 years as a correspondent, the relative of one of my son’s friends politely declined my invitation to visit us in London. “I don’t think I could go to Europe,” she said. “It doesn’t seem safe.” Try as I might I could not suppress a laugh.
Yesterday we noted that Financial Times columnist, Jahan Ganesh, pointed out the futility of resorting to the “bathtub fallacy” which imagines that people will tolerate terrorist attacks because “more people die slipping the bath”.
Right on cue, the (UK) Guardian newspaper’s ex-pat American correspondent Gary Younge weighs in with just that.
If you’re so stupid that you think people don’t instinctively differentiate between deaths due to accidents and deaths due to the malign actions of human agents, then it is no wonder that you’re helping President Trump secure a second term.
Look – people don’t care if deaths from bee stings, snake bites, mountaineering misadventures, microwave popcorn explosions or bizarre gardening accidents outnumber those who die in terrorist attacks in America. The fact of the matter is that the American public looks on in horror at the attacks on markets, mosques other public places in the Middle East (responsible for thousands of deaths); and in trepidation as attacks killing and wounding hundreds become more common in Europe; and finally – as seen in Boston and Orlando – are finding a toe-hold on American soil. Not unreasonably, there is little appetite to see more of this in the United States.
So stop it. Far from seeming to put terrorism into “perspective”, it makes you look like someone who doesn’t take the threat seriously – or even as an apologist for it. What’s more, anything else you have to say will be ignored and Trump will most likely have his “two terms”.
Or course, perhaps you just have a book to promote.