Every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in work place related accidents. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, corrections officers, security guards or vigilantes. Every year more than 30,000 people are killed by gun violence in this country. The odds of being killed by a terrorist are only 1 in 20 million.
These statistics are rarely mentioned and never had a chance to be addressed after two bombs were exploded during the Boston marathon. Death under horrific but commonplace circumstances attracts scant media attention or political action. Acts labeled as terrorism, which are unlikely to kill anyone, bring an inordinate amount of hysteria among the populace and cynical attention from press and politicians.
Just two days after the Boston marathon a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, killing 14 people, most of them the much worshipped “first responders.” The risk of dying in an industrial accident is far greater than the odds of being killed by a terrorist, but no matter. The people were whipped into a frenzy and told to cast their eyes in the place where they should pay less attention rather than more.
It is frightening that the risks which Americans are subjected to on a daily basis are ignored as if they are unwanted background noise. Some of the passivity is understandable. Black people in particular are able to function in large part because the ever present risk of stop and frisk, false arrest, and police brutality are difficult to bear. There is a thin line between being conscious and losing one’s mind.
All Americans’ behavior is understandable if one acknowledges that we are constantly subjected to propaganda of various kinds. We have been propagandized to believe that some lives, white Americans’, are more valuable than others, namely anyone not white nor from the United States. There is no other way to explain why the government’s killing of thousands of people abroad is met with a shrug, if it is acknowledged at all. Americans are like spoiled children, whining over their suffering, while showing no empathy for anyone else’s. They feel that only their victimization is worthy of note, and in fact many of them support their government’s acts of violence carried out around the world.
That feeling of entitlement is a direct result of centuries of white supremacy which has never been examined or challenged. It has been fed as corporate power has grown and corrupted the media who now aren’t even very good at the basics of their profession. CNN, NPR, the Associated Press and other supposedly reputable news organizations reported wrongly on basic facts of the case such as the number of suspects, whether arrests had been made or not, or who was or wasn’t a person of interest. A “dark skinned man” was said to be under arrest but actually wasn’t. An Indian student missing since March was named as a suspect on social media and his family were threatened as a result.
After the wave of manufactured hysteria an easily frightened people were then convinced to accept tanks in their streets and heed government calls to “shelter in place.” The nonsensical overreaction was superseded only by the use of Orwellian jargon used to create an even more compliant public.
The predictably maudlin moments of silence weren’t restricted to Boston. More than $20 million in monetary contributions were raised without the donors knowing who needed it or for what purpose. Tributes flowed along with money and no one ran a race anywhere on earth without mentioning the bravery of Bostonians. The president showed up and as always on such occasions uttered words seemingly written by his worst speechwriters. The full force of the government would catch the cowards and the people would not be frightened because they are the best and freest in the world and the prayers of the nation went out to them because of democracy and the whole world stood beside them. Amen.
There is another kind of terror that goes on continually. Most reported terror plots of recent years were created entirely by government agents. The FBI had some contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was killed by police in the bombing after math. It is possible that the FBI moved from creating phony terror plots to actually carrying one out. The likelihood that there will ever be impartial fact finding on this and other questions are slim to none.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev now [April 24] lies in a hospital wounded by police gunfire and questioned without being read his rights. That treatment is a result of an Obama executive order which states that in cases of a “public safety exception” we have no such rights. Now that is everyday terror.
Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.