While I was ambling through various blogs this evening, I came across Brendan Loy, a kid from Newington, CT, who used to be a Democrat, but has come to believe that Democrats don't take terrorism seriously because...I'm not exactly sure why, I think he believes that bombs and guns and eliminating the basic protections the Constitution guarantees us are the only ways to defeat terrorism. He's got plenty of right-wing snakes whispering in his ear in the comments of his blog, decrying the more left-wing commenters for their stupidity and immaturity and ignorance (at the same time, referring to those left-wing commenters as crazy moonbats, which is clearly the height of maturity and intelligent analysis.)
So I started thinking about terrorism. First of all, I do think the threat that terrorists pose needs to be taken seriously. If someone wants to attack my country, I am 150% behind stopping that person/s. But I think it needs to be done smartly, and it needs to be done in a way that doesn't give the terrorist groups a big win by making American people less free. It's a tough thing to balance, no doubt about it.
Terrorists can do a hell of a lot of damage, and we must take them seriously, but the first thing to do when you are in trouble, any kind of trouble, is to NOT PANIC. I think sacrificing the civil liberties of American citizens is panicking. I think indefinitely holding detainees is panicking. I sure as hell think letting the bombs fly is panicking. (Actually, my personal theory is that war is always a failure. Not that it's always unnecessary, although I long for a day when we find another way to settle our differences. Sometimes, war is necessary. But it's a failure. And how can one NOT be cynical about the Bush administration when one examines how eagerly they chomped at the bit to go to war. They wanted every diplomatic effort to fail so they could realize their fantasies of metamorphosing the Middle East into a democratic wonderland...if one is willing to believe that they even thought that was possible or desirable. Yes, I'm cynical about the Bush administration, as anyone who pays attention to the news should be.)
Right now, I think what's happening is we are killing some terrorists, while laying down fertilizer to grow new ones in the future. When an American bomb kills a bunch of Iraqi men, those dead men don't stop having loved ones, and those loved ones aren't going to forget who sent that bomb.
So how do we end terrorism? Well, we don't. No one can. It is inevitable that a group with limited reach and power who is taking on another group with vast reach and power is going to resort to terrorist means to inflict the most damage they can. But I'll be damned if I'm going to be a terrorist victim and submit to their desire to terrorize me. That doesn't mean I think we should strap on the weapons and start shooting down mosques. I really don't know the best possible solution. I suppose the same techniques that have worked in the past will continue to work.
(To those who would suggest that we can't just stamp out hornets nests as they crop up, but that we need to bring in an exterminator to kill them all, how does that argument lead to anything but genocide? Even terrorists have people who love them, and perhaps will find themselves radicalized when the terrorist they love is killed. So you'd have to do it the way they used to take down emperors. Kill the emperor, kill those loyal to him, kill his family, kill his friends, kill his heirs. Except it's not quite the same when it's an amorphous group of people, all of whom have people who are loyal to them, family, friends and heirs.)
In the meantime, I will continue to vote for and support candidates who will defend me against my domestic enemies, like those who want to control my uterus, those who want to teach unprovable and unscientific religious dogma in science classrooms, those who want to allow corporations to control my life in and out of work, those who think that I should pay more taxes than a multi-millionaire, those who want to let companies be free to destroy the environment, those who want to control what I can watch on TV and read in the library, those who want my brilliant daughters to settle for a limited menu of choices in life, etc., etc., etc.
And I would urge Brendan Loy to stop being the victim of terrorism. Wake up, son. If the Bush administration hasn't botched everything they've laid their hands on deliberately, then they are singularly incompetent, and the Republicans want more of the same. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and if we just lash out in fear, we aren't really solving anything.