“During a discussion yesterday in Aspen with even-more-sycophantic-than-usual CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, FBI Director James Comey somberly warned that ISIS now officially poses a bigger threat to the “U.S. homeland” than the one posed by former title-holder Al Qaeda — because, of course, the Latest Threat must always be the Greatest Threat” – The Intercept
As America drives itself into yet another aneurysm-inducing episode over another far-away threat, the real threats it faces continue to go totally ignored, or are obscured in such atrocious and biased media reports that they cannot take their rightful place at the top of American citizens’ concerns. Americans, both Christian and atheist, progressive and conservative, continue to send themselves into a dizzying spin over Muslims, ISIS, Hamas, as well as perceived problems with America’s faltering greatness and the protection of the empire.
Much has been said about why the United States is such a paranoid country, perhaps the most paranoid in the world, but what needs more analysis are the things that actually pose a threat to the existence of the United States, its national security, and the welfare of its citizens. Since the American media and political elite have abdicated responsibility for educating people about these very real dangers, I thought I’d try.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list – one could fill a bookcase with the multitude of threats America faces – this list hopes to provide some perspective, and show Americans that the dangers they face aren’t obscure, distant heretics, but phenomena knocking on the doorstep of your towns and cities.
The Brady Campaign estimates that in any given year, around 31,537 people die due to gun activity. By contrast, in the UK about 178 people die because of gun activity each year. On top of the some 31,000 who die in the U.S. thanks to guns each year, a further 71,386 barely escape with their lives. Worst of all, the Brady Campaign estimates that around 86 people, 50 of them children, are shot and killed every day in the United States. The American College of Physicians, which treats gun violence as a health epidemic, likens this to an aeroplane crashing and killing everybody on board, every three days.
Despite these horrifying figures, the National Rifle Association, one of America’s biggest lobby groups, wields enormous influence at the state and federal level, lining the pockets of nearly all Republicans and some willing Democrats to keep gun control legislation from passing through Congress. The NRA even scores Congressional and Presidential candidates by their voting record on gun control, A being always voting no, F being always voting yes. After the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, the NRA’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre urged Americans not to “politicize” a terrible tragedy by mentioning the fact that it was made possible by access to guns, and his organization released a statement in which they blamed violent video games and rap music for gun violence, not access to those guns.
The question of liberty for gun owners is consistently considered more important than the right to public safety in the U.S., and each year, over 30,000 people pay the price for that oh-so precious liberty.
#2: Climate Change.
“Recent actions and statements by members of Congress, members of the UN Security Council, and retired U.S. military officers have drawn attention to the consequences of climate change, including the destabilizing effects of storms, droughts, and floods. Domestically, the effects of climate change could overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments” – The Council on Foreign Relations
The link between climate change and instability is very easy to trace from a theoretical standpoint. Floods that inevitably occur after the polar ice caps are gone will result in the total devastation of low-lying coastal cities, flood plains, and land below sea level. Countries such as The Netherlands could lose up to 40% of their land territories, and the U.S. will not be exempt. What will the effects of this be? A loss in arable land for food, an enormous and unprecedented population redistribution, and an unsolvable resource distribution problem. Some areas of the country will become lawless, and the U.S. will experience an internal refugee problem, all of which pose a threat to the integrity of the state.
Theoretical musings aside, the link between climate change and instability has already been well-documented. 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley told reporters this week that the rise of ISIS was caused, in part, due to the severe drought and lack of resources that affected Syria before and during the civil war. This humanitarian disaster, which went largely unnoticed in the American press, destroyed the livelihoods of farmers and drove people into cities, leaving rural areas totally susceptible to take-over by malicious groups. Republican politicians denounced his theory as some unpatriotic conspiracy theory, but O’Malley’s claims are backed up by scientific examination.
Around 800,000 people lost their livelihoods during the 2006-10 drought in Syria, which is referred to as “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began”. As hundreds of thousands were hurdled into poverty and forced to relocate into the cities, government mismanagement and religious tensions created enormous instability as people clamoured over each other to get access to their basic needs, such as food, water and shelter, the prices of all three sky-rocketed during the drought. In short, government ineptitude and climate instability leads to a national security crisis, a crisis that cannot be solved with drone strikes and armoured tanks.
But instead of confronting this looming disaster head-on, politicians in Washington throw snowballs in Congress to prove that climate change is a myth, and think that wind is a non-renewable resource. Oy vey.
Much has been said about the recent rise in racially-motivated hate crimes by white supremacists, neo-Confederates and good ol’ fashioned apolitical racists, but the discussion about racism in the police force remains something the media is completely incapable of dealing with correctly. While its coverage of George Zimmerman and Dylann Roof left a lot to be desired, its coverage on the McKinney pool arrests and the choking of Eric Garner were so inadequate they could barely be considered journalism.
Some of the countless examples of police brutality and murder against African-Americans have resulted in indictments on the officers involved, but by and large the rule has been to suspend them without pay, launch a shoddy investigation, and clear the department of any wrongdoing. Some estimates place the killing of an African-American at the hands of police to occur, on average, once every 28 hours.
Instead of confronting this as a national epidemic, which it most certainly was after the events of Ferguson, Washington stood by, implementing some minor fiddlings alongside the DOJ, none of which have actually prevented the rising tide of brutality, none of which have stemmed the near-genocide of America’s black population. Instead of decent investigative journalism in the wake of another murder, the media uses its powerful resources to comb through a dead victim’s past, looking for pictures to present the idea that they were a “thug”, with the implicit assumption that they had it coming to them.
In order to ward off any actual change in policy, or reign in the terrorist police officers, all a department needs to do is tell the media that they have every confidence in their underpaid officers, turning a much-needed discussion about police brutality into a discussion about how stretched public services are. The media nods silently, packs up its cameras and goes home, feeling satisfied that the story is done.
When African-Americans fight back through protests, the police literally crack skulls with the tacit approval of the media. When African-Americans fight back through social media, white people hijack the movements and make it about themselves. The #BlackLivesMatter phenomenon is bastardized into the #AllLivesMatter movement, in an attempt to paste over uncomfortable discussions about race and make the whole thing about how white people are victims.
In short, white Americans are innocent until proven guilty. For African-Americans, the reverse is true, and every 28 hours, one of them pays the price for that gross judicial and societal injustice. Meanwhile the KKK receives police protection when it protests in the streets.