Ter­ror­ized

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

Days after­wards, it’s al­most com­pletely van­ished from the news, just an­other foot­note of the dan­gers of life in Amer­ica. Early on, the fears were all about a ter­ror at­tack: a driver on the side­walk in New York City in iconic Times Square, mow­ing down passersby with­out even slow­ing down.

By the time his ma­roon Honda Ac­cord hit a bol­lard and stopped, the driver had killed an 18-year-old Alyssa Els­man of Michi­gan, and in­jured 22 more peo­ple, in­clud­ing her 13-yearold sis­ter.

News agen­cies fired out Tweets; re­porters, pho­tog­ra­phers and cam­era oper­a­tors were mo­bi­lized. A sunny spring day in Times Square seemed like a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to sow fear through ter­ror.

The driver was 26-year-old Richard Ro­jas, a Navy vet­eran from the Bronx with a his­tory of drunk driv­ing, vi­o­lence and men­tal is­sues. Po­lice say it ap­peared the man was un­der the in­flu­ence of PCP.

Drug abuse? Ap­par­ently. In­ad­e­quate treat­ment for men­tal health is­sues? Ap­par­ently, that as well. It raises plenty of ques­tions.

But not about ter­ror­ism.

At a nearby news con­fer­ence, New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio was re­as­sur­ing the public that, “Based on in­for­ma­tion we have at this mo­ment, there is no in­di­ca­tion that this was an act of ter­ror­ism.”

That’s fine.

But the same num­ber of peo­ple were in­jured, the same num­ber killed, the same num­ber of lives af­fected, re­gard­less of whether it was ter­ror or not.

No one was talk­ing about treat­ment or preven­tion, though — just, thank good­ness, not a ter­ror at­tack.

It’s just like the way we don’t talk about a whole bunch of things far more dan­ger­ous to so­ci­ety than the cur­rent threat of ter­ror­ism.

By May 19, the U.S.-based Gun Vi­o­lence Archive had a scary set of num­bers posted on­line: so far this year in the United States, there have been 23,161 gun vi­o­lence in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing 5,656 deaths, 11,116 in­juries, 244 chil­dren killed or in­jured, and — wait for it — 128 mass shoot­ings.

They’re now so com­mon now that, chances are, un­less they were close to home for you, few peo­ple could name even five of those mass shoot­ings. To keep it in per­spec­tive, there had only been 139 days in 2017 at that point, so, al­most a mass shoot­ing a day.

The truth of it is, Cana­di­ans are sta­tis­ti­cally far more likely to die as a re­sult of a drunk­driv­ing ac­ci­dent as they are to have died from ter­ror­ism.

Mon­day night, near press time, there was news of what might have been a ter­ror­ist at­tack at a con­cert in Manch­ester, Eng­land, with re­ports of fa­tal­i­ties. This is not meant to min­i­mize the fact that there are ter­ror­ist at­tacks, or that ter­ror­ism ex­ists.

But we have be­come a world fo­cused on one kind of harm, while many oth­ers fall quickly from our radar. And they all as dam­ag­ing to lives and fam­i­lies.

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