The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.

The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.

Although I bookmark an awful lot of links about politics and terrorism, I don't actually post or write about it much or at all here. But, having just read Bruce Schneier's column and having seen some of the comments, I have to post part of a reply I made:

If we can't walk it off, toughen up, and laugh and live in the face of these pathetic attempts to disrupt our way of life - then we've got no business living this life. Each of us, each individual one of us, needs to spit in the eyes of these threats and carry on. No terrorist would blow himself up in a market only to have us laugh and tell him "better luck next time" as we parody the grisly event on YouTube.

This sentiment is 5 years late, but I see it starting to bubble up more and more. I was scared shitless on 9/11, but that went away a long time ago. I hope that this year's "anniversary of the events of 9/11" is met with a long belated upswelling of definance, a tide turned against the pathetic manipulations of politicians to keep us cowering and tractable - and I hope to see some eyes opening to wake up to a world that's never going to empty of threats. There will never be an end to a War on Terror - but it's the wrong war to fight to begin with! If we can't face the world with determination and personal strength - maintaining the integrity of our principles and freedoms, finding real and intelligent solutions to problems in our own lives and throughout the world - we deserve to be destroyed.

Archived Comments

  • I understand the sentiment, but at the end you are exagerating: There's no death penalty for stupidity, cowardice, ignorance, or weakness. And I like it that way. :)

    At WikiSym, an English chap was comparing people's and the government's reactions to the recent bombings in London with years long past when IRA bombs were exploding practically every week. Back then, people got so used to it, they just shrugged it of and waited for the street to be cleared of rubble and reopen.

  • in similar vein, i think you might really enjoy this year-old post of mine, written in my house on ground-zero of the london 7/7 bombs.

    Why Terrorism Doesn't Work

  • Probably worth pointing out that the really big major of human death (stuff like over exposure to the sun, or even traffic accidents) don't get much press -- these things are passe. It's the rare stuff that frightens people.

    A corollary is that terrorists tend to be most effective when they hardly ever do anything.