With more shootings in the United States than there have been days in the year, according to the Washington Post, terrorism is becoming a quickly rising topic. Americans ranked terrorism as the top priority in January for Obama and Congress, according to the Pew Research Center. Terrorism had a 76 percent rating, and was one of 23 important topic options.
Fear for the next attack is taking over the country. Yet, this is for almost no reason, as there is significant data saying that people in United States are extremely more likely to die in a car crash than by a terrorist attack — in fact, almost 2,00 times more likely according to Global Research. Millennials though seem to not share this fear.
The generation is made up of people aged 18 to 34, according to the Pew Research Center. This means that the students who currently attend the University of Kansas and colleges around the world are a part of the Millennial generation.
“I think as millennials, especially Americans, we are taught and encouraged to think that our way is best and right and when you operate on such a reinforced thinking it doesn’t leave much room for fear because you assume everyone thinks the same as you,” said Darra Stuart, a junior at KU.
Sixty-three percent of millennials are either not worried or only slightly worried about another major terrorist attack in the United States. 41 percent of Generation X, 35 to 50, say they are at max slightly worried, and 37 percent of the Baby Boomers Generation and the Silent Generation, 50 and older, say they are not concerned. These numbers are according to a study done in March by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
Similarities between Generation Millennial and the previous generation, x, would include priorities of helping others in need, having a successful marriage and being a good parent, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. However, there are many differences between the two generations, including feelings towards the threat of terrorism.
“Younger people typically don’t have as much anxiety about many things, whereas older people do, even though they’re least likely to be subject to whatever it is they’re afraid of,” said Donald Haider-Markel, a professor and department head of the Political Science department. Haider-Markel teaches and researches on public policy, American politics, public opinion, civil rights, criminal justice, and counterterrorism.
“That’s just kind of common, but younger people also have a lot more to worry about in terms of their future — are they going to get a job, are they going to be able to live where they want to live, and those kinds of broad, where’s my life going questions, versus you know the threat of terrorism or crime, or anything else that specific,” said Haider-Markel.
Studies done have shown that at least one reason millennials don’t live in fear is because of 9/11. In 2011, a study done by the American University School of Communication showed that 71 percents of people aged 18 to 29 felt that 9/11 “impacted different facets of their lives during the past decade.” More than 70 percent also said that they are either only “not too worried” or “not worried at all” that they or a family member will be a victim of terrorism.
“I feel like it’s very precedent, in our country and in our society, and it’s a big deal,” said Katheryn Ham, a KU sophomore. “It happened when I was so young, that I just grew up with the aftermath. Because it happened when I was five, I don’t really know life before 9/11.”
The feelings of college students towards terrorism are becoming more (and more) relevant to society.
“I am not worried about an attack. I think terrorism is a very prevalent concern of the modern world. It ultimately shows us are failings as global citizens to support and encourage diversity of mind,” said Stuart. “I don’t think that terrorism is acceptable, nor am I encouraging it as a means of expression, but I find it concerning.”
Of millennials, 66 percent believe that purely ruling on military force can create hatred, and that this hatred will lead to more terrorism versus the 41 percent of the Silent Generation, which believes this, according to the Pew Research Center. Two-thirds of Millennials believe that to bring out peace, the best way is through good diplomacy, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Generation Millennial is described as having a personality as “the connected, diverse collaborator, shaped by 9/11, texting, and the recession,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It has also been considered as optimistic, “despite the many tragic events that have shaped this generation, such as 9/11, terrorist attacks, school shootings like Columbine, the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
“Just the general scope, there’s a certain degree of certain things that are going to take greater priority and sometimes terrorism, you know it’s going to be a one in a million chance if you really think about it,” said Sam Ranberg, a student at KU. “It’s important to always remember how horrible a certain event can be, like a shooting or a bombing, you have to remember that theres some sort of objective in mind. Although, it can very emotionally problematic for some, for victims certainly, but it’s always good to look at the full picture.”
At the University of Kansas, terrorism is only briefly touched on. KU has had active shooter training for terrorism, yet this is as far as the University has gone. There has been several articles written about terrorism and research occurs at KU, however this research does not have a KU, or even a Kansas, focus.
“Of course, I’m biased because I teach a course, you know, but there, in the time I’ve been here, I’ve been here for 18 years, there have really only been a couple of courses offered around the university that deal with this topic,” said Haider-Markel, referring to terrorism and his course on the subject. His class, “Extremist Groups and Government Response,” focuses on extremist and terrorist groups.
“One of the things that I would hope that students get from the class, but also that is relevant to boarder discussions that are occurring at KU, is that one of the lessons learned about political extremism comes from the fact that you have a portion of the population that believes its view aren’t being heard,” said Haider-Markel. “And that finding ways to be inclusive in discussions, even though we may not always agree with what other people have to say, is really important to trying to thwart extremism and thereby thwart the potential for terrorism.”
On Nov. 18, an opinion piece that ran with the University Daily Kansan that had the title “Burbank: Concern for global events, no matter which country, is necessary.” This article discusses how people must start caring about what is going on in the global community.
Another opinion piece in late October discussed the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, saying that it needs to be more than hashtag. An article was written in September about conversations between KU students about Israel and Gaza tensions. And then in June, an article was written on the NSA’s surveillance. These are the only pieces written on anything even close to the topic of terrorism in the past year.
“I think we should be talking about it more,” said Stuart. “I would be interested in seeing more open dialogues.”
Haider-Markel doesn’t believe that if students aren’t heard that they will become terrorists, but that it is important to make sure they are part of the dialog.
“I think broadly speaking, in a democratic society, really enhancing that democratic component of it and ensuring that those voices, however marginal, have a place and are a part of the dialog is incredibly important,” said Haider-Markel. “I think it’s a lesson learned that you cannot simply hope to ignore or silence people with no negative result.”