Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Are You Afraid Of?

I'm not really afraid of Islamic terrorists. Are you?

I believe that they will strike in America again. They will come up with some dastardly deed that will shock and horrify us, and kill some of us. It will probably be happen somehow that the average person isn't really thinking of. Poisoned water. Explosives on a bridge. Electric grid shutdown.

It'll be bad, and bodies will be buried. I hope our government does what it can within the law to prevent it, and I support their efforts. But I don't believe they can succeed forever. Something bad will happen.

But I'm not all that afraid of it. Even with a son living in New York - as likely a target as any - the fear doesn't haunt my waking or slumbering hours.

Maybe my lack of panic came from traveling in England and Ireland during the heyday of the IRA. There's nothing you can do about it if someone sitting next to you at a pub or a bus station is going to ignite his backpack. So, be alert, but, in the words of Julius Caesar, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Don't sweat what you can't control.

My lack of panic causes me to reach different policy positions than those who live in dread of what they call "Islamofascists". Media Lies, for instance, is fairly typical of right wing bloggers in that he has no problem with the president doing whatever he deems necessary to protect us. He warned me, "The terrorists who murder and maim are only the visible surface of a vast iceberg. Underneath is a vast organization that seeks to implement Muslim shariah law throughout the world." Yeah, that's probably right, but we're out there trying to spread our views throughout the world, too, and we've got some crazy people workign for us, too.

Relax, breathe steadily, think about the fact that people the world over are pretty much like you, and we can find a way throught this challenge without wetting ourselves. We have Pat Roberts believing in assassination, and they have lunatics who believe in beheadings. If the good and decent elements of our respective countries keep their heads about them, we can find a way to coexist.

But I am afraid. I'm afraid of our government, and how it is doing its best to keep us in a state of unthinking fear. Over the long term, I fear our government far more than I fear the terrrosists. Our government running amock stands a far better chance of messing with my life than some misguided youth with a bomb strapped to his chest. George W. Bush arrogating powers to himself and his corrupt administration will damage our country more than any terrorist act imaginable.


Blogger antimedia said...

In case you're worried about me, I'm not personally concerned about terrorists, because I'm not afraid of death. My concern is that far too many Americans don't see the danger, and by the time they do, it will be too late. That and I worry about my grandchildren - what kind of life they will have.

1/05/2006 11:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well stated, Antimedia, and that's precisely my concern. I'd much rather have them living in a world analogous to England in the late 70s than in Stalinist Russia. That's my fear.

1/06/2006 6:07 AM  
Blogger emawkc said...

George W. Bush arrogating powers to himself and his corrupt administration will damage our country more than any terrorist act imaginable.

I disagree for the simple reason that Bush will be gone in a few months, but the "Islamofacists" will still be around.

It's unfortunate that you trust the terrorists, who have sworn to kill you, more that you trust your government, which has sworn to protect you.

1/06/2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous anonymous me said...

While I think you're over-reacting a bit, because I suspect that when the dust settles the Bush "spying" will be far less clearly illegal than the left now wants to believe, I do understand your position. I am a great believer in the truth of Thomas Paine's statement that "government is at best a necessary evil, and at worst an intolerable one."

However, I think you vastly underestimate the goals of Islamic fundamentalism. This is not at all the same as the IRA, though many of the tactics are the same. Islamic fundamentalism is far more dangerous; further, becasue they have the support of states behind them, they have the potential to use for far more destructive weapons than the IRA ever considered using, even if it had them. While the IRA wanted Irish independence, it did not challenge the very fabric and values of the underlying society - and that is exactly what the "Islamofascists" (and I hate that word, but it fits at times) seek.

By contrast, this country has been through political concentrations and aggregations of power far more dangerous than this one. We have survived. We will survive this one. Presidents come and go. This one will go too. And if he has done what you suspect, and I'm wrong, the constitutional checks will correct it - he should be impeached. At worst, Americans will have the opportunity to change course at the next election.

So, the sky is not falling, and though shaky and messy at times, American democracy is not on the verge of collapse.

Try to catch your breath. "Stalinist Russia," indeed. It is that kind of ridiculous demagoguery that undercuts your very credibility.

1/06/2006 1:30 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Emaw -

I don't trust the terrorists, and I don't trust Bush, either. Bush swore to uphold the law and the Constitution. But what makes you think I trust the terrorists?

Anonymous Me - I don't worry so much about my credibility that I'm unwilling to call a spade a spade, or at least call a trend toward a spade a trend toward a spade.

Secret prisons, check.
Spying on citizens, check.
Holding self above law, check.
Engaging in torture, check.
Invading sovereign nations, check.
Suspicious elections, check.
Calling opposition treasonous, check.
Encouraging a climate of fear, check.

Am I missing anything?

1/06/2006 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See? We can agree ....

Tony Rosen

1/06/2006 4:15 PM  
Anonymous anonymous me said...

Nice checklist - most of the allegations are either entirely baseless or without substantial evidence in support (i.e. "suspicious elections" - please - that dead horse need not be whipped any longer. Get a grip.).

The fact is, you're simply of the crowd that would blame the president if Godzilla appeared out of the Atlantic; if meteor showers struck the earth; if the left coast fell of the contintent (hey, that last one's not a bad thought!).

Even if true - highly questionable - the mechanisms of American democracy remain in check. The nation, and its institutions, are far more resiliant that any temporary occupant of any office. So while you may hate the president and all he stands for (your right), and may continue to say so (also your right - and as long as that is the case, the US is hardly Stalinist Russia), the world indeed continues to turn, and the US is still the world's best hope, missteps and all.

1/06/2006 4:35 PM  

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