Radley Balko has a very interesting post about the war on terrorism and why we should not allow it to close up our free society and violate our constitutional protections. He bases this in part on an article by James Fallows in The Atlantic, which I have not read. But I find Balko’s logic quite compelling:
The gist of Fallows’ thesis is that the terrorists will never conquer the west, and they know that. Public consciousness of the threat, and the absence of a sanctuary in Afghanistan have neutered al-Qaeda. They’re now a loose-knit group of desperados acting on their own accord. Fallows argues — convincingly, I think — that while these vagabond cells can certainly still do some minor damage, their real aim at this point is to provoke our overreaction. The best they can hope for is to disrupt our way of life, and instill fear and panic — like making us think that we’re one liberal Supreme Court justice away from every warblogger’s favorite new vocabulary word, dhimmitude.
America is never going to be run by Islamic fundamentalists. We’re never going to be involuntarily speaking Arabic. The worst-case scenario is that we let a few acts of terrorism fundamentally alter our way of life, we cower in fear, and we hand over the very freedom and give up the very open society people like Simberg say the terrorists hate us for.
In that way, statements’ like Simberg’s do far more to advance the mission of Isamic terrorists than anything some doofus like Ward Churchill could utter.
Hear, hear. The irony is that, in the aftermath of 9/11 we kept hearing about the “cowardly act” of running planes into buildings. But I maintain that the real cowards are those who would so easily give up constitutional protections out of fear of terrorists. We can and must do a great deal more to investigate, prosecute and disrupt those who engage in terrorism against us. But if we do so by eliminating the basic safeguards against the abuse of authority, like the need to show probable cause and secure warrants before spying on American citizens, we do so out of cowardice and lack of confidence in the ability of a free society to sustain itself against threats.