Due to having had a bit of social life this weekend I’m a tad behind with the obligatory comment on the September 11 anniversary – but as it’s apparently compulsory I can’t let the date pass uncommented. On the bright side it also means I can largely just link to other people that have said what I want to say so much better than I would. Let’s start the ball rolling with Penn and Teller (H/T Angry Exile)
From how we’ve reacted to that one incident and the subsequent nonsense in London – has basically meant that from the get go we’ve lost. We’ve allowed ourselves to be terrorised, and in defending our culture of freedom our politicians have destroyed it, and our media have taught us to be afraid. In the UK after attacks less successful than anything the IRA ever did. We’ve introduced draconian laws and sacrificed numerous liberties to save ourselves from a lesser than risk than being hit by a car. As the wired article says some people suggest that looking at the risk that way doesn’t account for the impact it has on society. However again as the wired article observes the terrorist doesn’t get to change our laws, our politicians do.
Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has an answer. “There’s going to be a terrorist strike some day,” Clarke told Frontline for its “Top Secret America” documentary this week. “And when there is, if you’ve reduced the terrorism budget, the other party, whoever the other party is at the time, is going to say that you were responsible for the terrorist strike because you cut back the budget. And so it’s a very, very risky thing to do.”
The risk, in other words, is a political risk. The culture of fear: It’s a bipartisan race to the bottom. And it’s why the National Security State constructed by the George W. Bush administration has found a diligent steward in President Obama. Asked recently if the post-9/11 security apparatus might diminish soon now that al-Qaida looks weak, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, replied, “No.”
And it’s not much different over here, no matter how low the risk the politicians have to be seen to be doing something for fear other politicians will use the next attack no matter how pathetic it is as a stick to beat them. Even if you accept that the “war on terror” is needed to counter real and serious terrorist threats, well I’m afraid that the politicians and the media would have us be scared of the wrong terrorists. Out of the 249 terrorists attacks in Europe in 2010 three of them were carried out by Islamists. That’s it three whole attacks, and of the people arrested for planning terrorist attacks 53% weren’t related to Islamist attacks*
So it would seem to me that we’re letting our politicians waste huge amounts of money, destroy our liberties and enact draconian laws to combat the wrong threat. Whilst our media scares us with an ineffectual bogeyman whilst not mentioning people that seem to be doing a better job of blowing other people up. Surely the best way to remember and honour those that died in the attacks in New York and elsewhere would be to take the same approach as we took with the IRA – carry on as usual and don’t destroy our own culture for fear the bogey man might get us?
* Yes I know I swapped which way I quoted the stats, also just using Islamist as that’s what the data i’m referencing used.