Good News America: You aren’t going to be killed by terrorists

Terrorists can’t stop the taps from flowing at Dynamo.

Fellow Americans,

I’m writing this from the most dangerous place in the world, a bar in Brussels. From the heart of the dreaded “Lockdown,” I have some good news:

Terrorists are NOT going to kill you.

The View from Brussels

It was with a sense of pronounced irony that I learned about Erick Erickson’s Star Wars fears. I picked up a copy of the New York Times on Saturday while in the Brussels cafe Bar du Matin and read that Erickson, the editor of right-wing site Red State, was cancelling his plans to see the new JJ Abrams movie. Why? Because he is afraid Daesh-aligned terrorists might attack the theater.

The Farce Awakens
Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”

This was a strange fear to hear coming from a man in Macon, Georgia. What did he know about imminent terror threats that the patrons in the trendy Brussels neighborhood of St. Gilles had missed?

The Belgians, or the French for that matter, are not particularly renowned for their bravery - with the exception of Jean-Claude Van Damme of course. In fact, Conservative Americans like to mock the French for their propensity to “surrender” and their unwillingness to fight. “Freedom Fries,” anybody?

Seemingly unaware that they are in a state of panic, Belgians drink coffee and beer at Bar du Matin.
The “imminent threat” didn’t shorten the line at the Friterie on Sunday.

What do Belgians packing in these Brussels cafes and bars despite a “Specific terror warning” or the Parisians who headed to the bistrot in droves last week know that Americans don’t? Why have 26 states become afraid of Syrian war refugees? Chris Christie can face down that most menacing internal threat — teachers, but not orphans? When did the rugged, swaggering Americans become so fearful? When did the bold mavericks that inspired awe in Europeans turn into cowards with too many guns, but no guts?

It’s Always the Media’s Fault

You can’t be blamed if you are thinking jihadists are lurking around every corner given the recent news coverage. If it bleeds it leads.

This tweet that Al Jazeera interpreted as a “Before and after” photo of downtown Brussels was particularly misleading. (Notice the Christmas decorations in the “Before” photo, clearly taken at the height of the shopping season, not this past Saturday.)

This user posted photos that purported to show one of the busiest streets, La Rue Neuve, before and after security was tightened. — Al Jazeera

I had to chuckle looking at the breathless coverage of the lockdown in Brussels, between sips of excellent saisons and sour beers at Dynamo Bar. When I asked the owner why he kept his bar open all weekend, even after the 6pm suggested curfew, he responded, “Because screw them.” “Them” being the terrorists.

It’s not that people in Brussels are fearless. They are very aware of the threat and the closure of schools, some subway lines and shops has been an inconvenience and source of stress for many. But unlike Erick Erickson or the politicians who voted to “Pause” Syrian refugee immigration, the people of Brussels simply don’t want fear to define them. They don’t want to give terrorists that satisfaction. They don’t want to respond with hate when they can respond with cats.

What Will Kill You

Don’t believe the media fear machine or grainy videos from Daesh. You are not going to be killed by terrorists.

You will die, sadly, but it won’t be from terrorism. The most likely culprit will be that sleeper cell from within: cholesterol. Erick Erickson and other would-be moviegoers are being attacked by over-buttered, salty popcorn. Ban the butter! War on transfat. #HeartDiseaseNotWelcome.

Okay, I admit that heart disease is technically death by “Natural Cause.” Even if we remove that cause or cancer, terrorists are still not going to be what kills you or those you love. You are much more likely to die in a car accident (33,000 people/yearly) or by a bullet from your family’s gun (32,000). You have a greater chance of being maimed or killed by accidental poisoning (38,000), falls (30,000), or as soldiers in an ill-conceived foreign war (1 million U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan) than at the local coffee shop, bar, movie theater or mall by Daesh.

To all the politicians and people locked in fear, take heart. Terrorists are not going to burst into your schools and shoot your children. Ruthless killers won’t attack politicians and bystanders at the supermarket. No Syrian sleeper cells will fly planes into our federal buildings or blow them up. Relax and feel safe in your houses of worship, whether they be Christian churches in South Carolina or Seikh Temples in Wisconsin. Maniacs seeking a war of the races won’t be killing your praying parishioners anytime soon.

I should clarify. Jihadists won’t be attacking any of those places. I can’t speak for homegrown radicals with legally obtained weapons. I’m just saying that those very scary Syrian refugees aren’t so scary. They won’t kill you. That must be a relief.

Fear is Their Oxygen

I noticed that the list of states refusing Syrian refugees didn’t include the places actually attacked by the all powerful terrorists on 9–11: New York, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. But that’s not even the “Real American.” What gives?

I guess when you have actually faced horrific violence and reasonable fear, you don’t have time to be afraid of your own shadow, or every brown person with a beard.

Moreover, we New Yorkers (my permanent home) don’t want to give the “evildoers” the pleasure of scaring us. We don’t want to change our life and reject our American values just because they yelled, “Boo!” We know that the biggest “F You” to the jihadists is to be better Americans, more compassionate and just, not less. We know that they, like Donald Trump, fear nothing more than being ignored.

So, don’t fear. One, you have nothing to fear, but…you know the rest. Two, when you respond to hate with fear, and match their callous disregard for innocent life with callous disregard for the suffering of refugees — they win.

Make America Great

Let’s be great. You always like to say how America is the greatest, or at least that we can make it great again, right?

A great country doesn’t let its enemies dictate its values. A great country welcomes the tired, poor and huddled masses. A great country builds a mosque at Ground Zero, because we are great (though it wasn’t a mosque but a recreation center). A great country gives terrorists due process, because we stand for rule of law, in contrast to our enemies. A great country doesn’t need extra-judicial killing. It never, ever spies on its own citizens. A great country responds to the horror of terrorism with compassion and courage, to steal from JFK, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

A Lesson from Those Socialists

My French is horrible, but I’ve noticed people in Belgium sprinkle a phrase in casual conversation that even I can translate. Whether they are responding to terror threats, or encouraging you to brave the long line at your favorite friterie, there is a constant exhortation: “Bon courage.” Learn from the people of Brussels and Paris, be courageous. Be great.

You won’t be killed by terrorists. They won’t destroy our democracy or defeat our values. The greatest threat to our hallowed American way of life isn’t external, it is our own cowardice and reactions that follow.

If you just can’t bring yourself to take life advice from these European Socialists, then head out to see Star Wars and remember the wisdom from a galaxy far, far away:

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. — Yoda

May the Force be with you.

Now, I have to pick my next beer. Bon Courage, America. #BrusselsLockdown

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