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Gwynne Dyer speaks at Parrott Gallery

Gwynne Dyer with a copy of his book Don’t Panic at a signing held after a book talk at the Parrott Gallery Saturday. Photo by Jaykob Storey, QNet News

By Jaykob Storey [1]

BELLEVILLE – Canadian political writer Gwynne Dyer [2] came to the Belleville public library Saturday to promote his new book, Don’t Panic, [3] and sign copies.

The event drew a significant audience, so much so that nearly a dozen people had to be turned away at the doors because they was no room for them. Before the event had even begun, it was announced that Dyer would be returning at some point in the future for another signing, due to the response from the community.

A large display room in the Parrott Gallery [4] was filled to capacity with fans of the author. For over an hour, Dyer spoke at length about the history of terrorism, ISIS and the related politics, before taking questions from the crowd.

The focus of his talk, and the book he was promoting, is the idea that terrorism isn’t the threat that many perceive it to be. “You as Canadians are safer from terrorism than from almost any other accident that could possibly befall you,” said Dyer. “In America, including 9/11, more than 10 times as many people have died from drowning in the bathtub over the last 15 years than have died from terrorism.”

“Four people dead. Two reserve servicemen and two terrorists. With all respect for the dead, in news media terms that is the equivalent of a bad car crash. Might get reported on the Ontario news on a really slow day, would never make national news. And that’s it for the history of Islamic terrorism in Canada.”

When the questions came, the audience had a particular interest in Dyer’s views on U.S President Donald Trump.

“Mr. Trump of course makes a great deal about terrorism. Mr. Trump got elected by promising to protect America from many threats that really don’t even exist,” said Dyer. “He’s doing exactly what ISIS would want an American president to do.”

“He’s brilliant!” said Lindi Pierce of Belleville, a fan of Dyer’s work. “It’s just so wonderful to hear someone take a world that’s so scary and so complicated and make it all so simple. He’s beating back the gremlins.”

“It was good. It was a good eye-opener for the people. I don’t know if I agree with all of his assessments, but we all have our own views,” said Assad Sharifi from Peterborough.

Speaking to QNet News on the media’s role in the spread of terrorism-inspired fear, Dyer said: “There’s going to be huge pressure to dramatize it. There always will be, because it sells. If it bleeds it leads, that sort of thing … There needs to be someone to say, ‘This is not the most important thing that happened this week; it’s just the most exciting thing. It’s a sporadic, small, disturbing thing, rather than the biggest thing you ever saw.’

“Any way (journalists) can find, and it can be very difficult to do this, but any way you can find to put it in perspective, when everybody else is jumping up and down and waving their knickers in the air and saying the sky is falling, there is an opportunity for you say, ‘Well, not actually.’ “