Just a few weeks ago I wrote about how in the context of global terrorism “we in the Global North (or West, if you prefer) have no idea what it is to live under the constant threat of terrorism.” I need to eat my words. We just don’t like to call it terrorism in America. We use words like “active shooter scenario” or “mass shooting.” It’s like how we say “domestic incident” instead of “honor killing.”
I need to eat my words. Because we still haven’t had enough.
Because if your female in America you live in a constant state of fear. It isn’t even safe to visit a health clinic for a cancer screening. Getting treatment for a yeast infection may require a security escort to enter a clinic.
Those top ten countries for terrorist attacks with nearly 35,000 deaths last year? Guess how many American’s have die in shootings every year. Nearly 35,000. Yeah. Let that sink in a minute. We shoot ourselves (some of those gun deaths are suicides) and each other at a rate higher than people die of terrorism in the top ten most terrorist-plagued countries.
It’s time for a math lesson. Did you know I used to be a math tutor? (My calculus prof recommended me for the job.)
Remember this chart?
OK, here’s population data to go along with it:
So, to calculate a more useful comparison than simple totals we need to know what proportion of people are killed. We’ll use Iraq as our example just because it’s the top of the list. We take 13,076 terrorism fatalities and divide that by the population of 32.5million. This gives us fatalities per million people. 13076/32.5=402.3. In 2014 for every 1 million Iraqis 402 died in terrorist attacks. Got it? I did the math for you:
Now can we admit we have a gun problem? Suddenly Pakistan, Ukraine, India, Yemen, Nigeria, and the Philippines look pretty safe. Let’s also consider that Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya are all places where accessing medical treatment for a bullet or shrapnel wound can be a bit of a challenge. (In some of these countries this may have something to do with US military and drone strikes hitting hospitals, but that’s another topic for another post.) We’ll make the assumption that when it comes to life-threatening injuries the timeliness of medical care matters, as does the access to sterile surgical centers and antibiotics for the prevention of infection. These numbers aren’t injuries, they are deaths. America’s health care system may have some significant problems but we can generally count on our emergency rooms to save lives and ask questions later. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if our healthcare system looked like what’s available in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya we would have higher rates of gun fatalities than they do of terrorism fatalities.
Again, I wish to apologize for my earlier post. Americans DO know what it is to be constantly terrorized and traumatized. Especially American women and minorities and children. Our kindergartners practice lock-down drills where they learn to hide and hope an “active shooter” kills a different kid. Have we had enough yet? Are we willing to turn our swords into plows, our guns into tricycles, our missile silos into grain silos, our bombs into bookshelves?