The frighteningly totalitarian sounding Homeland Security Department has issued a nationwide warning that al Quaeda terrorists might be plotting to use small airplanes to...do something bad to us. Or something. Now, they readily admit they have no “specific or actionable intelligence” that these plots are taking place, but they couldn't see any reason why that should prevent them from demanding that all Americans across the country, all 300 million of us, cower in terror before another nonexistent small-bore plot to harm a few people.
How many Americans will die at the hands of drunk drivers this long holiday weekend? Why should we not fear that, as those horrific deaths and maimings will actually happen? Instead, we are breathlessly warned about a bizarre itty-bitty version of the 9/11 attacks, starring a small single engine airplane and a couple hundred pounds of fertilizer. Frankly, if any American has both the imagination and the mental and emotional bandwidth to actually find it within their capacity to work up any real concern over a plot like that, they probably should find something to do. Like watch TeeVee. Or take a nap.
Think about this. They’re hyping a threat they have no reason to believe is taking place, and that threatens approximately the same number of American lives as a particularly bad house fire. Who actually believes this serves the public good in some way? If it was a serious threat, it would be pointless, because there’s nothing an individual can do to mitigate his or her risk. Stay out of buildings that small planes fly over? Sorry, I don’t have access to Dick Cheney’s bunker. It’s the kind of mindless cowering in fear of big, bad al Quaeda that the American government has been doing since before the first tower fell ten years ago, and it benefits no one as much as it does al Quaeda themselves.
Of course, we know why they make these ridiculous announcements. Fear of the political exposure if something bad happens over the Labor Day or 9/11 weekends - this way they could say they were on top of the threats. Sadly, it continues to be the political calculation that they take less political fallout for stupid, pointless fear-mongering like this than they would if they had been silent before an attack. It’s simple, and stupid, and endless.
Imagine how much healthier our society would be if the amount of day-to-day thought we American citizens put into international terrorism was proportional to the amount we actually suffer from it. If our national law enforcement organizations worked quietly with international counter-terror community to disrupt plots and prevent violence, without undue fanfare or visibility. If the face we presented to the world was one of fearless confidence, going about our business undeterred by the feverish machinations of extremists and madmen.
That would be what a victory in the “War on Terror” might begin to look like. ...