Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston: How Important is Terrorism?

 By Tom Kando

Since April 15, I have been wondering whether to add my voice to the cacophony about the Boston Marathon  bombing on Patriots’ Day, and if so, do I have anything original to add? Well, I have found my angle. Taking  a big risk,  I am going to argue that this terrorist attack  was less important than we are made to believe...

How dare you, Kando! You callous idiot! What if YOUR 8-year old son had died? Etc. My Dutch friends might ask, ‘Jees,  Kando do you always have to be ‘in the contramine’? (do you always have to be the devil’s advocate?) You are right. I am a terribly  insensitive person for saying this. Nevertheless, I will now plough through with my argument: You see, I am worried that once again we are going to draw  the wrong lesson from this heinous act. Heinous it was, indeed. I hope that we catch the culprits and that we punish them harshly. I also support vigorous efforts to maximize security and to fight crime and terrorism.

But the problem is, whenever something like this happens, we react by urging ourselves to “Do More!”

Well, how about NOT doing more? How about staying the course? How about NOT panicking?  How about NOT going further down the road toward paranoia and  police state conditions? How about NOT making the lives of 330 million Americans  increasingly uncomfortable? How about NOT barricading ourselves in our homes and our gated and guarded communities?  How about NOT changing our culture even more than it already has? 

Bad things  happen. They happened in Oklahoma City in 1995, in Atlanta in 1996, in Fort Hood in 2009. They happen in Europe even more often - in Madrid in 2004, in London in 2005, in Norway in 2011.

Terrible. Continued vigilance is important. But staying calm is also important. Keep in mind that the  danger from terrorism is infinitesimally  smaller than that from driving to work, to school, to Safeway, than that from road biking (which I do every day), from walking in the rain,  from smoking and  from bad eating habits. Just about everything  else you do puts you at greater risk than terrorism does.

We have gotten used to the hassles of flying. At the airport, you can no longer eat and shop  beyond security check, unless you are traveling that day. Bummer. Walking up to the top of national shrines such as the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument is no longer possible.  So be it.

Now, following  the Boston Marathon attack,  they are talking about “improving security” at   marathons, including other ones  such as the Sacramento CIM. And since the Newtown school shooting, the NRA-types want to post armed guards in all schools  and arm school teachers. Nuts!

The media don’t help either. Take the April 9 Texas knife attack: On that day, ALL major TV channels were transfixed by that event, hour after hour, endlessly broadcasting meaningless interviews with  bystanders, police clerks and others only remotely connected to the event. The event was vastly over-reported, considering that there wasn’t a single fatality. It could have been used judicially to argue for gun control, as it demonstrated that   GUNS indeed  kill people, much more so than knives and other less lethal means. But that was not the lesson which people drew from that event.

I have run the Boston Marathon several times, and I would not hesitate to do it again. Former CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd said: “We understand that this is a risk in today’s world. But we’re not at the point where we are  as resilient as the Europeans or the Israelis.” To which Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee added: “There’s not going to be any way to protect the country completely against individual attacks. (We should) not let this change our way of life.” (Sacramento Bee, April 16, 2013). Amen to that. leave comment here