I really liked Ze Frank's comments in his show on Thursday. Here's some good clear thinking:
[T]he Brits caught some douchebags who were going to blow up some planes.
Now, the way I see it, you can't have terrorism without terror.
The strategy of terrorism is to use isolated acts of violence to
instill fear and confusion into the population at large. A small number
of people can incapacitate a society by leveraging our inability to
Airline industry stocks plummetted today, while the industry
braced for a rash of cancellations. This, despite the fact that even
with the risk of airplane bombings it's still more dangerous to drive
your car. Or smoke cigarettes.
As long as a small group of people can inflict mass panic
across a large population, the tactic itself will remain viable. One
way to deal a blow to the effectiveness of terrorism is to deal with
the terror itself.
London's police deputy commissioner Paul Stevenson said that
the plot was "intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale." No,
it is imaginable: between three and ten flights out of thousands would
have resulted in the terrible loss of human life.
Bush today said this country is safer today than it was prior
to 9/11. Personally, I don't think he knows. Whether we like it or not,
terrorist attacks on Americans are now part of the global reality. They
will continue to happen. Many places around the globe have had to deal
with a similar reality for years. India, Ireland, England, Spain,
Russia, to name a few. In many cases, these societies have pulled
together and not allowed isolated acts of violence to tear at their
fiber. Like disease and the forces of nature, it's a risk that we have
to rationally come to terms with. The government's responsibility is to
make sure that fear and terror are not disproportionate to the reality
of the situation.
Today the President said, "This nation is at war with Islamic
fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom
to hurt our nation." Generalized statements like this which instill
nebulous fear without specific information are exactly in line with the
goals of terrorism.
Damn straight. Unreasoned panic is unproductive, but worse, it's exactly the intent of terrorism.
Yes, absolutely we need to do the actions which are actually effective to protect people (e.g. the solid investigation and signal interception techniques in Britain and Pakistan that prevented disaster this past week), but throwing away our rationality and the basic precepts of freedom (e.g. intolerance of the use of torture) is not necessary.
Keep a cool head.
[Thanks to the fabulosos who maintain the transcripts in the The Show wiki!]