Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Overreaction to Terrorist Attacks Like Paris Is Only Making Things Worse

The Brennan Center’s Michael German talked to Arun Kundnani and Ben Friedman about why framing the violent acts of a handful of marginalized individuals — such as the recent terrorist attacks in Paris — as an existential Muslim threat against western civilianization is not accurate or helpful to our national security.

Arun Kundnani, author of “The Muslims are Coming!” and an adjunct professor at New York University, pointed out that there is a disparity in how governments treat different forms of political violence. Muslims account for only a small percentage of the terrorism in Europe over the last several years. In fact, most politically-motivated violence there is carried out by nationalist and sectarian groups, yet the government and the media don’t treat those threats the same. “Ultimately, it is about race,” Kundnani said.

“A similar phenomenon occurs in the United States,” German said, “where most media outlets covered the distant Paris attacks far more closely than domestic shooting sprees by white supremacist Fraizer Glenn Miller, or anti-government extremists like Curtis Wade Holley, Eric Frein, and Jerad Miller, who assassinated four police officers in separate instances last year.”

Ben Friedman, research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute, added that inflating the threat of terrorism makes it easier for intelligence officials to obtain new resources and authorities. “It’s unfortunate that the same people who are receiving the funds from taxpayers for national security are the same ones telling us about the threat,” Friedman said.

Watch the interviews here.

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