Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don't Let the Terrorists Win

Via John Ballard, I learned of this Paul Campos op-ed. Mr. Campos presents a perspective on terrorist attacks that we don't often hear in this country, and one that I subscribe to. Here's a sample, but please read the whole thing:
It's a remarkable fact that a nation founded, fought for, built by, and transformed through the extraordinary courage of figures such as George Washington, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. now often seems reduced to a pitiful whimpering giant by a handful of mostly incompetent criminals, whose main weapons consist of scary-sounding Web sites and shoe- and underwear-concealed bombs that fail to detonate.
Terrorball, in short, is made possible by a loss of the sense that cowardice is among the most disgusting and shameful of vices. I shudder to think what Washington, who as commander in chief of the Continental Army intentionally exposed himself to enemy fire to rally his poorly armed and badly outnumbered troops, would think of the spectacle of millions of Americans not merely tolerating but actually demanding that their government subject them to various indignities, in the false hope that the rituals of what has been called "security theater" will reduce the already infinitesimal risks we face from terrorism.

If the primary strategy of terrorists is to sow terror, the American response - in general, as presented to us through our media - shows how incredibly successful the terrorists have become despite how many times they have been foiled. It appears that the only way our government can succeed is to prevent plots without the citizenry ever learning of them. As mentioned most recently in the White House
summary analysis of Abdulmutallab's Christmas Day attempt, "On a great number of occasions since 9/11, many of which the American people will never know about, the tremendous, hardworking corps of analysts across the CT community [prevented attacks]. [emphasis mine]

However, the true victory against terrorism is for the citizenry not to give in to terror: not to agree to endless invasions of privacy and inconvenience in travel; not to elevate failed losers like Abdulmutallab and Jose Padilla to supervillain status. You didn't see the British during the blitz cowering in fear; when the bombs weren't falling, they went along with their business. Here's bravery amongst citizenry:

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