As I read this Atlantic interview of Chris Christie by Jeffrey Goldberg, it made me start thinking about threats. My thought process must be very different from that of most Americans. There’s a long list of countries and organizations I just don’t think are meaningful threats to us.
DAESH. Iran. Russia. China. Yes, even in the light of the San Bernardino murders I don’t think that DAESH is a meaningful threat to us.
That’s not to say that I think there are no meaningful threats but they’re not global ones, not institutional ones. They’re individuals and you can’t even get into a meaningful discussion of the subject without making people squirm, many to the point where they object.
Let’s look at risk factors. I don’t see how you can look at the San Bernardino or Fort Hood cases and not come to the conclusion that Muslims are risks. To me that’s not the question. The question is how great a risk and whether the risks can be mitigated.
More risk factors. Travel in certain high risk countries (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.)
Mental illness. Anomie. There’s a strong streak of what for lack of a better word we might call “anomic violence” that subsumes the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Aurora shooting, the Colorado Springs shooting, maybe the San Bernardino murders, too. Some of these risk factors stack up.
Sure, the availability of firearms is a risk factor. I don’t see a meaningful way of mitigating the risk. It’s a great way of signalling virtue, though.
What are some other risk factors?
I also think of that old MAD Magazine joke.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians.
Lone Ranger: Well, Tonto, it looks we’re not going to get out of this one.
Tonto: What you mean “we”, white man?
Not every threat to Israel or Germany is a threat to the United States. Or not a threat that presents the same level of risk.