Responding to those who argue that concerns over terrorism are overblown—one philosopher pointed out that, on September 11, 2001, an estimated 30,000 children across the globe died of hunger—Spencer Case writes:
Fatality statistics, first of all, don’t account for the possibility of unprecedented terror events. We may yet witness attacks in which terrorists poison the water supply of a major city, detonate a nuclear bomb, or release a weaponized pathogen at an international airport. A cyberattack on the electric grid could cause power outages that last for months and span several states. Affected areas would immediately be plunged into a total breakdown of civil order and could suffer from mass starvation within days. . . .
[But numbers alone] fail to reflect the broader costs of terrorism. . . . Chess master Aron Nimzowitsch famously said, “The threat is stronger than the execution.” Terrorists use literal executions as a means to generate an atmosphere of perpetual threat. . . . In 2013, Islamists in Bangladesh circulated a “hit list” with the names of 84 people whom they found troublesome. As of this writing, nine of those people are dead, as are dozens of others, due to grisly terrorist attacks in which victims were often dispatched with machetes. Soon after the targeted killing commenced, Ananya Azad, a blogger on the list, quit his job as a columnist, stopped blogging, and now rarely goes outdoors. (His father, litterateur Humayun Azad, had been gravely wounded in a 2003 machete attack). Doubtless many others whose names we don’t know are being intimidated into silence. . . .
The shadow of fear extends into the Western world, too. Behold how our leaders reacted with panic in 2011, when the Florida pastor Terry Jones proposed to burn a copy of the Quran. (He eventually did so, and violence predictably erupted.) Or the fact that the cartoonist Molly Norris has been in hiding for five years, at the FBI’s recommendation, because she suggested that there be an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” . . .
And then there are the economic consequences of terrorism. The New York Times estimated [that] $55 billion worth of physical damage and an additional $123 billion in economic damage to various industries [were] caused by 9/11.