Durango Skeptics and Atheists NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER ADDENDUM

Opinions, when expressed, are solely those of Larry Bollinger and do not necessarily reflect those of Durango Skeptics and Atheists…so chill. 

Our general meeting on November 15 featured a spirited discussion about the current refugee crisis and the role that the U.S. does/should play in ameliorating it.

Since the meeting several members have found interesting sidebars to the discussion and that is the reason for this ‘addendum’ to the November Newsletter – to bring these items to your attention.

Syrian refugee montage

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Home of the Brave is being subsumed by insidious and poisonous Fear that is peddled by our political leaders at every turn.  And Americans are eating it up.

  • A single case of Ebola in Texas sent the U.S. into hysterical convulsions and demands that we ‘close’ the border.
  • The (now negative) flow of immigrants across the US/Mexico border is imagined to be an overwhelming influx of rapists and criminals who are hell bent on destroying our ‘way of life’.  Again, frantic calls to ‘close the border’ and to ‘build a wall’ to keep us ‘safe’.
  • Consider that, although we are bristling with arms of all sorts from the man on the street who ‘open carries’ to our death-dealing drones in the skies, we cower at the thought of a 3-year old Syrian refugee living next door.

So, when I saw the syndicated op-ed column by Nicholas Kristof headlined “The Statue of Liberty Must Be Crying With Shame”, I could only sadly shake my head as I agreed. If you haven’t yet read it (it was in the Herald 11/24), here is the link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/opinion/sunday/the-statue-of-liberty-must-be-crying-with-shame.html?_r=0

One of the striking comments Kristof makes is the following: “…Then again, by my back-of-the-envelope calculations there’s maybe a 100-times greater likelihood that, say, a Floridian will turn out to be a murderer over a 10-year period than that a refugee will attempt terrorism. So if we’re willing to allow Floridians free entry into other states, allowing Syrian refugees shouldn’t be a problem.”

 Yes, gun deaths in the U.S. amount to around 30,000 dead Americans each year, including homicides, suicides and ‘accidents’   http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm . That is one ‘9/11’ every five weeks or so. But not a peep from our leaders (or from us!), except hollow words to assure us that our precious Second Amendment ‘rights’ are worth the carnage. This is a topic (which I consider to be one of American’s greatest moral failings) for a future group discussion that I will moderate.


But the point in raising at this time is that the average American on the street risks being a victim of gun violence at the hands of a gun-toting fellow citizen much more than she risks violence at the hands of a ‘terrorist’, Islamic or otherwise. CNN reports that for every American killed by ‘terrorism’ in the US and worldwide, there are in excess of 1,000 deaths caused by firearms within the borders of the U.S. Think that over for a moment while I pull up the next graphic….


Ah, here it is:


As you can see, the threat of gun violence dwarfs the threat of ‘terrorism’ … but what is really striking is that American eating/health habits are vastly more deadly to U.S. citizens than the threats of guns and terrorism COMBINED!

Americans are far more likely to be killed by their automobiles than by terrorist actions!

Not to put too fine a point on it, BUT: CDC numbers mean that you, the average American Atheist, are

  • 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack.
  • 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from terror attacks.
  • We are all more likely to die from medical errors than terror…5,882 times more likely.
  • And on and on.


You Are More Likely To Be Fatally Crushed By Furniture Than Killed By A Terrorist    Marc Masor sent this link to an article in the Washington Post   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/11/23/youre-more-likely-to-be-fatally-crushed-by-furniture-than-killed-by-a-terrorist/?tid=article_nextstory


In addition to citing stats that show ‘terrorism’ to be a negligible threat to the US, the article points out that the fear threshold in people has to do with the amount of ‘control’ they feel they have over a situation. You, driving your car or eating a double-fudge brownie, feel that you are controlling events…at least nominally. This contrasts with terror events which are ‘terrifying’ precisely because you lack the ability to control when/where such a thing might occur. Fear, according to WaPo, is a matter of perception.


Sweden’s Rape Rate Under the Spotlight     Do immigrants bring more crime, such as rape, when they come to a new country? At our meeting, someone raised the issue of dramatically increased instances of rape in Scandinavian countries as a result of the influx of Muslim immigrants. Maria Doucette posted this link on FaceBook   http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19592372  Statistics don’t tell the whole story of crime in a particular country…countries differ in the way that crime is reported and recorded. Statistically, Canada and Australia are the two countries leading in the category of ‘kidnapping’. Columbia and Mexico, by comparison, are statistically ‘safe’ in that same category…yet the public’s perceptions color our opinions in ways that are not, statistically, justified.

Hating Refugees is as American as Apple Pie http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hating-refugees-america_564c8fdbe4b06037734bc8a0

Jews, Catholics, Mexicans, Syrians…we hate ‘em all equally. It’s America

This addendum to the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Newsletter will now end, as they all do, with cartoons. Not all hilarious, but all on-point for the discussion of immigrants, refugees and our national self-image at this Thanksgiving holiday.

By the way, if you are cheering on the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel, how would you feel if the American Indians took up arms and demanded their unlawfully-seized territory returned to them? It’s a question that occurred to me more than once as I selected these cartoons …

Have a HAPPY(and thoughtful) THANKSGIVING!

  • larryb


DOCTOR SEUSS? SAY IT AIN’T SO!Dr_Seuss_World_War_II_Political_Cartoon_16


I LOVE THE BOW OF THE SHIP! SUBTLE!hebrew shipping lines





2 thoughts on “Durango Skeptics and Atheists NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER ADDENDUM

  1. As always, great job Larry. I look forward to reading these every month. Perhaps I missed it somewhere else, but do you already have plans for the gun control discussion that you are planning to moderate?

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