“Misunderstanding Terrorism”: How the Us vs. Them Mentality Will Never Stop Attacks

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“But why does the threat of terrorism resonate so much more in the popular imagination than other dangers? Sageman argues that identity politics influence our response to violence, both for victims and for perpetrators. Most Americans perceive terrorism as something that comes from an “out-group” rather than from people with whom they identify. As a result, an attack creates a sense of solidarity, leading people to react emotively, in contrast to the oft-muted response to more common forms of violence. This identity-driven reaction to terrorist violence also causes people to overestimate how prevalent terrorism really is, making them willing to commit wildly disproportionate resources to fighting it.”

—Hussain, Murtaza. “Misunderstanding Terrorism.” The Intercept. May 13, 2017.

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