Terror expert: It's all about managing our fear
Updated: Tuesday, April 16 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As soon as Newschannel 3 heard about the explosions this afternoon, we started seeking out the people in West Michigan best equipped to help us provide some perspective on why terrorists may have selected this event, and what, if anything, we can do to prevent a similar attack in the future.
One expert we spoke to said it's all about managing our fear, as fear is what terrorism is all about.
The experts say it's also more important for us to be able to quickly respond to any emergency, rather than focus on preventing it.
Hundreds of thousands of people on-site, and national media attention makes for a prime terrorist target--something Grand Rapids Public Schools Director of Security Larry Johnson was well aware of while handling security for Super Bowl XLVII.
"When you talk about Super Bowl, and we've just come out of the NCAA Finals, those type of events are a little more controlled because you have natural choke points or secure locations," Johnson explained.
This is why he says an event like the Boston Marathon is ripe for a terrorist attack.
"It's a fantasy for a terrorist because you have a large scale event that has a lot of public attention, a lot of media coverage, and then there's no way to properly secure it," Johnson said.
The fact that the Boston Marathon has name recognition around the world is also enticing.
"Targets are always symbolic; the audience is the victim," offered GVSU professor and terrorism expert Jonathan White. "That's who the terrorists are targeting."
White has been studying terrorism for 30 years.
He says images of panic broadcast around the world is exactly what terrorists want.
White says we need to put every mass shooting, bombing, or hijacking into perspective.
"If we start putting some of those things into perspective, we can place terrorism into perspective," White said. "This is the way we're going to fight it in the 21st century."
In a 2012 study, the Vanderbilt Political Review said Americans have a 1-in-20 million chance of dying in a terrorist attack.
We are 8 times more likely to die by drowning in the bathtub.