I will be honest about something today.
When I hear about a terrorist attack in the United States or another country in the Western world, my first reaction is to feel deep sadness for the people most affected. I feel great concern for people who have lost loved ones and for the local residents who are shocked by the confusion, trauma, and violence of it all.
Then, my second reaction is to feel fear. Though it’s not the fear that many may expect.
I don’t fear dying in a terrorist attack.
The odds of that are actually quite rare. I denounce terrorism in all its forms, and it’s truly horrific any time it happens. But when it comes to terrorism as it is typically defined in the United States, I do not expect to die in this way.
So what do I fear?
I fear dying from the manipulation of that terrorist attack.
And I don’t fear this solely for myself. I fear that we will bomb entire nations in response, killing civilians who had nothing to do with what we experienced. I fear that men and women in our military will die in large numbers. I fear that American citizens born into an experience of poverty will conclude that military service is their only option out of that experience. I fear that white Americans will become radicalized and act violently toward Muslims, or any other people group that may be stereotyped and dehumanized.
And I fear that some individuals and corporations will make money off of all of this – in fact, that this will be a silent, invisible motive to manipulate the terrorist attack at hand.
I know I am not alone in these fears. These are the fears of my generation, people who came of age in the War on Terror.
We are not the only generation to feel this way, but I can promise you that many of us immediately fear the manipulation of a terrorist attack even more than we fear terrorist attacks.
And we want to change the narratives that make that possible.