Franck on the French Terrorism Bet
By Bryan Caplan
Raphael Franck claims that he actually won our ten-year bet. With his permission, I reprint our email exchange on the topic.
I attach to this email an excel file which lists the number of people who were killed in terrorist acts and riots in the past 10 years. I undertook a thorough research job (not limited to wikipedia of course) and won our bet because my count, there were more than 500 people who died in terrorist acts and riots.
Clearly, this is a lower bound estimate: the French politicians and media have tried to minize the occurrence of terrorist acts and prefer arguing that some crimes are not undertaken by terrorists. This is possible because many terrorists are “lone wolves” who are just armed with knives or ram crowds with their car. As such, the media can attribute the growing number of attacks to mental problems. For instance, politicians and journalists have been denying that the driver who rammed his car through a crowd in December 2014 while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” and who killed at least one person (https://www.tendanceouest.com/actualite-88705-nantes-une-victime-succombe-la-justice-enquete-pour-assassinats.html) was a terrorist. He was, as the French say, “déséquilibré” (i.e, unhinged).
It was difficult to find data on victims for the many small-scale riots that often occur in France. For simplicity I used the lacunary data on people who were killed by the police (it is only this year that the France started tracking the number of individuals killed by the police – otherwise the job is done by leftist activitists). Usually these people are not killed at random by the French police, they are killed in small-scale riots that occur in the suburbs of the major French towns. I left a few links that document the deaths of people killed in those riots (in French, but there is nothing that google translate cannot do).
The other thing is that I counted the Islamic militants killed by the police in the final bodycount (listed under the column “Shaheed”) alongside with their victims (listed under the column
“Kuffar”). Like the French citizens killed by the police in small scale riots, I am sure you will agree that the French police used excessive force and should have negotiated more with these militants who were for the most part French citizens who were often born and bred in France. It is a bit irrelevant for our bet (although completely in line with what I had predicted) that those individuals were domestic terrorists who were motivated by an ideology that is alien to French culture and history.
For the record, to win this bet, I did not even have to include in the final count the French soldiers who were killed by jihadists in the former French colonies in sub-Saharan Africa (which are only former colonies by name, given that the French army still seeks to control those areas to protect French financial and industrial interests). But I could. And then I would also count the jihadists that they killed.
I am not interested in the money. I suggest you donate it to a charity that takes care of children with special needs.
As you might suspect, I find your methodology biased. Who besides you counts the German plane crash as “terrorism”? And you want to count 100% of people killed by the French police as deaths from “riots”?
And of course deaths outside of the borders of France are explicitly ruled out by the wording of the bet, though I’m willing, given the wording to count the deaths of the perpetrators.
I’m open to resolution by a neutral arbiter.
My methodology may be biased. But I have one and it is very reasonable.
The crash of the German flight was cheered upon by radical Islamists. So I guess they viewed it as a success for their cause.
As for the riots, the first link in the excel file documents that about 10 to 15 people are killed every year in France by the police; the deaths that I counted in the dataset were therefore a subset of all the deaths caused by the police and they occurred in the suburbs of French towns where small level riots are a common occurrence. Hence the numbers in the excel file are not 100% of the deaths caused by the police. As I wrote before, quite a few crimes in France motivated by radical Islam may be reported as a-ideological violent crimes because the
motivations of the attacker are hard to tell. If anything, I did not include in my count the March 2017 murders committed by a 31 year old Frenchman who slit the throat of his brother and then of his father (http://www.lepoint.fr/societe/paris-l-egorgeur-du-11e-etait-fiche-s-17-03-2017-2112697_23.php). I chose to do so, even though this murderer had a “fiche S”
(i.e., “S file” where S stands for security and designates people whom the French police view as potential terrorists). In fact, I was wondering whether you would try to deny that the car ramming in Nice in July 2016 was a terror attack because the attacker had a history of mental illness (as if everyone who has issues decides to kill people at random, like him or like the German pilot).
I thus stand by my earlier statement that the estimates on terror victims that I gave are a lower bound. It is totally fine with me if you do not want to acknowledge that my estimates are reasonable.
I do not see much point in asking for a neutral arbitrer. At the end of the day, the neutral arbitrer will have to decide whether terrorism motivated by radical Islam has become a common occurrence in France. For some reason, I have yet to meet someone who is neutral when it comes to the relationship between radical Islam and terrorism.
I am fine with your posting this conversation online. And for the record, I oppose terrorism by radical Islamists and take very little satisfaction in my correct predictions. After all, if more people had listened to me, more lives could have been saved.