Monday, September 26, 2016

Terrorism? Obama And The Media Want You To Beware Lone Wolf Bathtubs

Earlier this month, The Economist encouraged us to be Learning to live with it -- apparently with the threat not only of lone wolf terrorists, but of lone wolf bathtubs as well:
Barack Obama was correct when he said earlier this year that the danger of drowning in a bathtub is greater than that of being killed by terrorists. Baths are a one-in-a-million risk. Even if the terrorism deaths in San Bernardino and Orlando were doubled to give an annual death toll, the risk would still be about one in 2.5m. Yet the president was lambasted for his otherworldly complacency.
Well, far be it that we should be complacent about either of these dangers, but when The Economist -- and Obama -- make this comparison, are they really pushing an apples to apples comparison?

First of all, are there any lone wolf bathtubs that the rest of us don't know about, plotting on drowning people?

On the other hand, contrary to arbitrary, random bathtub drownings, there are Islamist terrorist groups that, if not actually planning specific targets, are encouraging attacks in areas most likely to spread terror in furtherance of a specific goal.

Comparing the numbers for bathtub accidents and terror attacks is just not an apples to apples comparison.

Also, in a bathtub, you are responsible for your own safety - if you are lackadaisical about it, you have only yourself to blame.

However, Islamist terrorism is something we rely on the government to prevent - if they seem lackadaisical about identifying threats, will the government take responsibility when random luck does not stop the terrorists?

Maybe this is the dangerous bathtub Obama and the media had in mind?
Source: Liberty First News

Of course, comparing bathtubs and terrorists is not something new that The Economist picked up on.

Back in January, The Washington Free Beacon had an article on New York Times: Bathtubs More Dangerous Than Terrorism
Americans who fear they might die while taking a bath are more rational than Americans who fear a terrorist attack, according to the New York Times.

“Americans are more likely to die in a car crash, drown in a bathtub or be struck by lightning than be killed by a terrorist,” wrote the Times’ Peter Baker on Monday. “The Islamic State does not pose an existential threat to the United States.”
Which threat is less under our control, and causing more fear?
Source: Washington Free Press
Again, what actually makes this claim about rational fear true is that car crashes, drowning in bathtubs or being struck by lightning are either to a large degree under a person's own control or are random acts of nature. Preventing terrorist attacks is something out of the individual's control. Instead it is something the government claims to be working to prevent -- and when we read about the Obama administration playing down the threat or avoiding addressing it by name, is it any wonder people are afraid?

In the New York Times article, Peter Baker writes that Obama admitted at the beginning of the year that he did not see ISIS -- which uses proxies to carry out terrorist attacks in other countries  -- as a threat to the US. As we approach the end of the year, how have events borne out Obama's assurance?

In The Great Bathtub Hoax of H. L. Mencken, you can read about a hoax fabricated by H. L. Mencken back in 1917 about the history of the bathtub in the US and its danger, a hoax that was perpetrated in other newspapers:

Newspaper cartoon
One of many newspaper features perpetuating Mencken's hoax.
According to Mencken, the article, which he called “a tissue of somewhat heavy absurdities, all of them deliberate and most of them obvious,” had no other purpose than “to have some harmless fun in war days,” although there are those who think maybe the old codger had a bit more in mind.

Wendy McElroy, in The Bathtub, Mencken, and War, notes: “Through his hoax, Mencken demonstrated to himself and to selected friends that the American public would believe any absurdity, as long as it appealed to their imagination or emotions.”
Would even a cynic like Mencken have thought to make the comparison between bathtubs and terrorists that both government and media is trying to foist on Americans today?

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