The number of Americans who have been killed here at home by jihadi terrorists since 9/11 is fewer than 100 — you are literally more likely to get struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist. But it’s vital to Trump that Americans exist in a state of ongoing fear.
Trump’s presidency, like his campaign, is built on a set of powerful negative emotions: fear, hate, disgust, contempt, resentment. When Americans think of the world outside our borders, he wants us to think of two things: foreigners that are ripping us off, and foreigners that are trying to kill us.
What is all this leading to? We need to be seriously concerned about a Reichstag Fire scenario, in which some dramatic event like a terrorist attack occurs, and the administration moves swiftly to exploit it for its own ends. We’ve been through that before, and not that long ago. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress rushed to pass the USA PATRIOT Act, giving the government sweeping new powers to monitor, detain, and spy on Americans. In the atmosphere of fear and anger, it was passed 357-66 in the House and 98-1 in the Senate.