The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Americans are not Likely to be Killed by Foreign Arabic Terrorists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/4/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 809 times Debate No: 36359
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)




A recent round of high alerts and embassy closings, inspired by media savvy criminals, has caused millions of Americans to begin collectively fan-girling in abject terror.

"Omigodomigod honey, a terrorist! Get the broom!"


Causing the home of the brave to puddle itself in fear has become a sort of low-hanging fruit for "terrorists" worldwide. The American media, ever watchful for high-paying hyperbolic hysteria, does its best to advertise for these criminals, and America consequently cowers.

But, before we start shredding our Bill of Rights (with the exception of the Second Amendment for gods sakes; freedom), and bombing some developing country into the Iron Age, perhaps some of us should remind our timid friends that these fears are overblown.

"Darling, it's a terrorist, not a spider. Get off the chair."

"But, I am afraid of terrorists, kill it!"

"You are acting like it is something dangerous, like a spider or a mouse. Get off the chair, and hand me the broom. I'll shoo it outside."

Political "leaders" within the United States have built entire careers on the premise that they can keep us 'safe' from the horrors of international terrorism. They have heroically suppressed the ominous "terrorist threat," in the ultimate strawman match. They have spent hundreds of billions of dollars 'protecting' the American public from non-Christian Arabs who live in Arab-places and worship Muhammad. Or something. But, be afraid.

They do not mention that foreign terror groups kill fewer Americans than mice, or spiders. They do not mention how easy it is to 'keep America safe' from the threat of video-taped beheadings and Sharia Law.

"No! Don't shoo it outside; they carry diseases. You have to kill it. Then, we need to duct tape the house up, and go burn down the neighbors home, because that is where it came from. Then, we need to put out a mortgage on our home to pay our son to go into the neighbors house as it is burning, and stomp more terrorists."

"But, our son might die, and we might kill the neighbors..."

"No! We have to do it!"

"There, look: it's flown out the window. The terrorist is gone."

"Borrow against our house, burn the neighbor's home..."

"Honey, please calm down..."

"I will not calm down! FREEDOM!!"

The Global War On Terror has caused crippling levels of American debt at a time when such an astronomical level of investment could have helped aid economic recovery from the Great Recession. Sober estimates calculate that over one hundred thousand human deaths have been directly caused by the American military response to terrorism. America has become known as the Western nation that will use human torture, and will openly attack international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions... as opposed to protecting, strengthening and expanding the mission of human rights. The American perspective can often be summed up as, "we have not given them enough reason to hate us... yet."

Americans have also been eager to place caveats all over the American Bill of Rights, whose role in history is not surpassed by the Magna Carta.

All of this sacrifice, all of this destruction, in order to protect us from a 'threat' that kills fewer Americans than mice, or spiders.

How Lethal is Terrorism in the United States?

If we count only "international, Muslim terrorists, then the likelihood that any particular American citizen might be killed in an act of terror plummets into near insignificance. Most Americans who die from acts of terror are killed by the hands of other Americans. The most likely such victim of a terror attack in the US is black, Native American, gay, non-Christian, or Hispanic.

If we remove these victims of terrorism, and count only attacks by international, Islamic terrorists, then the victim count drops to a very low level. So low, in fact, that it becomes difficult to calculate. If an American wants to avoid being killed to death by an evil terrorist who is not white, Christian, or American, then no action is needed. No protective steps are necessary. All such defenses can be carried out in the "background," by law enforcement and investigative agencies.

In the United States of America, it is literally easier to be killed by a dead chicken than by an Arabic terrorist.

This Debate:

In this debate, I will argue that the danger presented by Arab terrorists from Muslim countries is largely overblown, by pointing out that the likelihood of any particular American being killed by an Arabic terrorist is low.

My opponent will need to demonstrate the opposite; that Arabic terrorists have been killing American citizens - in America - at high rates, in acts of terrorism. We may analyze such terror attacks both before and after 9/11.

I do not intend for this to be a semantic argument. Any attempt to argue from another definition than the ones provided below will result in full forfeiture, and a seven point penalty in my favor. Any attempt to play semantic gotchas is a matter of interpretation, but I ask that my opponent agree to forfeit these points now as penalty for such action in this debate.

The first round should be set aside for Acceptance, and broad arguments. Arguments presented here will not require rebuttal.

Drops cannot be counted as concessions.

This debate will demonstrate a statement of fact: That a very small number of Americans are killed by Arab terrorists in America each year, as compared to other causes of death. Therefore, I believe that it will be impossible for CON to score arguments unless a high number of American fatalities at the hands of Arabic terrorists in America can be demonstrated as having had already occurred. If this does not happen, the CON side cannot be granted the "Arguments" score.


Terrorism:There is no universally accepted definition of Terrorism.

Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” [1]

This definition is overbroad, and can be used to describe almost any unlawful action by any person.

Therefore, the following definition will be accepted for this debate:

"Terrorism is a military/political tactic that uses fear and intimidation as it's primary method of subduing an enemy."

Additionally, the only terrorists that can be evaluated in this debate are Arabic, Muslim, and non-American.

Explanation of the definition:
The use of an anti-tank missile, no matter how terrifying, can never be considered an act of "terrorism," because the actual damage caused by the missile is the primary means of subjugation. Likewise, threatening such catastrophic damage is not "terrorism," since the damage itself remains the primary means of subjugation if the opponent wishes to engage in combat.

Threatening to take and execute hostages, on the other hand, constitutes an act of terrorism, since the actual killings cannot, by themselves cause an opponent to submit to the political goals of the terrorist.

The anti-tank missile will destroy a target regardless of whether or not the target is afraid. Executing hostages does nothing unless an audience is aware that the killings have occurred, why they happened, and feels irrational fear as a result.


You know, when I accepted this debate I thought I could out maneuver Pro a little bit by proclaiming American Embassies to be US territory. This would have greatly amplified the number of killings I would have been able to prove against Americans on US soil by Arab jihadists while still obeying the rules and context Pro set out; which were: "Arabic terrorists have been killing American citizens - in America - at high rates, in acts of terrorism." However, after some careful research, it appears more likely that US embassies are only "treated" as US soil in principle, which of course is different then it actually being part of America and having territory status. This is a very common misconception which fooled me somewhat, and is likely to have fooled many of the voters.

I have yet to find out whether US military bases are considered US soil or not, but again, they are most likely not, unless of course -like with embassies- there is a special treaty; Gitmo for example, is legally considered US territory through the Platt Amendment. But I just think it would be pretty tiresome to check every single US military installation and consulate that has ever been attacked by terrorists for its treaty status that may or may not proclaim some form of US sovereignty.

For my creativity and valiant effort, for what the lack of general understanding by the public at large for what the sovereign status of US embassies actually were, and for the fact that Pro was inspired to create this debate from that mass closings of American embassies abroad due to the terrorist threat; I propose that for the purpose of this debate, US embassies should be considered US soil, and that I would be very happy to continue this debate should Pro accept.
Debate Round No. 1


My partner and I have determined that this debate should be cancelled. Please do not score.

Thank you.


Jingle_Bombs forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I am re-writing this instigation, if anyone has an interest in taking up a debate along these lines. This particular contest has been abandoned as unwinnable. Our political leadership does not know this.

I am heartened to see that very few debators are willing to make the same claims, but would nevertheless like to more closely analyze the subject of exactly how afraid we should be of fear-crime.

I ask that no votes be cast in this contest, as it has already been conceded.
Debate Round No. 3


I shall begin drafting a new version of this instigation soon. I invite any who might like to debate the new version to contact me.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by nonamenoslogan 3 years ago
Reminds me of the joke that Americans are more likely to be crushed to death by their furniture than killed by terrorists, leading the Pentagon to call air strikes on Ikea.
Posted by DeFool 3 years ago
As I said, I intended this debate to closely resemble the one I was using in the forum discussion. I had hoped to debate an opponent who might try to argue, as Rick Santorum recently did on the Sunday Morning News shows, that there was an urgent danger from "Islamism," or some such nonsense.

There is no danger from Islamism that is greater than poodles.

You present an interesting question: Would the threat be greater if the United States had not killed so many non-terrorists in Iraq? I had anticipated this while considering this debate. I realized that there was a time when two conditions existed simultaneously: we were not butchering school girls and torturing non-combatants in Iraq... and terrorists hated us.

This was the norm for a very long time. The 'new' factor is our democide. The fact is, that the best efforts of the 'terrorists' were always more or less thwarted by law enforcement and investigatory agencies. Some damage was still done, yes, but not much.

Americans may not know it, but 9/11 did not have to happen at all. After the failure of law enforcement on 9/10, it did not have to be as painful for our nation as we made it. We did not need a war. We did not need to lose the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, and we did not have to surrender our rights and honor. We did those things, not any 'terrorist.'
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 3 years ago
But yes, please considered this debate as it stands void.
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 3 years ago
I agree, the current resolution really isn't debatable. The number of killings by only Arab terrorists (not including other radical Islamic factions, like Iran) on just US citizens at home and not also on US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, is a really narrow analysis of the Global War on Terror; and in the future I think we should consider a new premise that also includes the total number of attempted attacks and prevented killings against America and its allies worldwide. Considering US Embassies as US soil would have been a cool trick on my part, but as your research pointed out, this only appears to add to the frequency of terrorist attacks and not really their lethality.

I do really appreciate the topic however, I pride myself on national security issues, so should you wish to begin a new debate on whether or not Terrorism is overblown -without certain killing/attack restrictions of course- I would be all for it.
Posted by DeFool 3 years ago
Jingle Bomb:

I was able to find some good data on the numbers of Americans killed at US Embassies since the early 1950's. Wikipedia, so the figures cited are sourced, and can be checked for accuracy. I see no reason to quibble about these numbers, however. If it is useful, these can be presented.

Before the debate was accepted, I had considered making a few modifications - in order to make it a more even debate. The reason I proposed it in this form was simply to underscore - severely - that American fears of terrorism are grotesquely overblown. I understand that there is 'some' risk, but not much. The real damage done in terror strategies is never done by the terrorists themselves.. by definition. The goal of the terrorist is to cause their enemies to damage themselves. If ignored, the terrorist is unarmed.

The genesis and context of this debate was the following forum discussion between Roy Latham and myself. That discussion can be found here:

In it, I was repeatedly asked to develop a formal debate that would encompass my forum argument. This debate is the result of my effort to do that. I might have proposed it to Roy Latham directly, but wanted to trot it out into the middle of the street, as it were. The fear that terrorists are a real threat to American life is a fear that is not only held by one Roy. It is a fear that is felt by all Roys, as far as I am aware. With this in mind, I thought it proper to parade my premise up and down the square... so that any and all that might have been successfully terrified of terrorists might realize how silly they have become.

If you like, we can cancel this contest altogether. For those reasons. As I said, I do not regard this as a "fair" chess match, as much as it is an exercise in political chill-pilling. If you still would like to continue, however, I will enjoy our disc
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
You may want to remove the word "Foreign" from the resolution, since we have homegrown ones too. But even with that, I agree that it is highly unlikely. A bit closer to the odds of winning the lottery without buying a ticket.
Posted by DeFool 3 years ago
I think that it is impossible for CON to score highly, as well. I indicated this in the R1 section, to warn off those who take the scoring a bit too seriously.

However, I regularly encounter those who, in a very heated fashion, deny that my premise here is accurate. Roy Latham is a notable example from this site. This debate was inspired by his insistence that I did not dare to defend this argument. Perhaps he will pick it up. If not, I hope that someone will.

If you feel that my debate idea is unfair to my opponent, I will be happy to make some modifications. I worded it this way for no reason other than to very closely resemble the discussion that Latham and I had - it may not be appropriate for another debate opponent.
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
Whoever accepts this has his/her work cut out for him/her.
Posted by Themoderate 3 years ago
Good Luck Defool! I do agree with your stance on this.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: If I could give conduct and arguments to both sides I would. This was the best forfeited debate I've ever read on this website. =) Countering Mikal, they said no scoring.
Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Oops agreements between both for no score.....