Saturday, October 28, 2006

What is terrorism, anyway?

Do you want the terrorists to win? That's a question politicians like to ask when someone challenges their policy positions. Remember, we're in a Global War on Terror. This war began when we were attacked on September 11, 2001. It is a war we are winning. As you can see, we have not been attacked again (nor will we be, unless the Democrats win the mid-term elections).

The problem with viewing terrorism through these goggles is that it confuses the intentions of terrorists. In a conventional war, the purpose of the 9/11 attacks would have been the death and destruction itself. But terrorists couldn't care less about death and destruction (which is exactly what makes their ideology so chilling). Death and destruction is a means, not an end. They kill and destroy as a means of filling us with dread. We call them terrorists because they instill us with terror. As long as we live in fear, the terrorists win. They needn't attack us again. We've taken over for them. We're attacking ourselves.

This evening I happened upon this article from Salon. Our air travel security policies are a joke. We are no safer, yet we jump through ridiculous hoops as a result of our immense fear. We're spending billions of dollars on security bandaids when what we really need to do is follow the advice of the 9/11 Commission and really reform our national security.

But checkpoint horror stories are only the tip of the iceberg. As a nation we've compromised our deepest values. Out of fear we have given extraordinary unchecked powers to our President. We have authorized him to invade our privacy, to torture whomever he pleases, to convict without evidence or a fair trial, all in the name of safety. We have done this because we are afraid. We are afraid because the terrorists have won.

What is terrorism? It's in your head.

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