No Terror Allowed

It’s been nearly 12 years since 9/11, and the idiocy that followed it, created by us, seems to have finally started to run it’s course. Yesterday’s attack on the Boston Marathon was stupid, cruel, cowardly and, finally, pointless. It seems we’ve finally broken through the bondage that terrorism creates, and that we might finally be able to walk away from the fear, foolishness and insanity that has run our country amok.

You see, terrorism works like this:

  1. Strike an unexpected target, one that people wouldn’t even see as a target if quizzed.
  2. Strike randomly, using enough force to kill but not so much that everyone dies. You want more hurt than killed, but you’ll need a few deaths.
  3. Watch as the media feeds on itself to fill time, and in doing so, creates a wave of terror leading people to think “nothing is safe”.
  4. Sit back and watch as the United States convinces its citizens to give up their liberties, the very thing they say they will never give up.
  5. Win the battle.

This has been the pattern we’ve been in since 2001. We’ve given up how we fly, when we can be stopped by police, who can read our emails, and how long we can be detained without being charged – you know, those basic things we used to call “rights” – and we’ve given them up without much of a fight because we’ve been acting like frightened children.

Then yesterday happened. No one was frightened. On Twitter, it was very apparent that people were disgusted by this event, and either combined that with outright anger or with hope for the people who were just injured. And everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was thankful for the First Responders.

(ASIDE: So much so that this petition was started to give First Responders a National Holiday, which we very much need. The irony would be that the very people this is for would have to work that day. But still, we should have it, so go sign it. I’m signer 373, so let’s get on this, shall we? h/t to @Mike_FTW Mike Monteiro)

The big photomeme that went around yesterday involved, of all people, Mr. Rogers. There are several versions, this is the one I like the most:

mr_rogers_helpers_quote

This didn’t go around in 2001, and while there was no Twitter or Facebook then, it didn’t get emailed either, and there was plenty of email back then. I know, I still have spam from then. This didn’t go around then, and it should have. After all, Mr. Rogers was around then, and had been since 1968, over three decades earlier. Maybe it was because his final show was aired just a few weeks prior on August 31st of 2001? No, that can’t be the reason.

Why didn’t it go around then? Why didn’t it go around when the trains in Europe were bombed? Why didn’t it go around when the shoe bomber happened? Or when London was bombed? Or the Atlanta Olympics? Or Oklahoma City? What’s different now?

It’s simple – we’re different. We’ve evolved a bit, and in a way, it’s rather Old-timey British charming.

I know, it sounds weird, but let me digress for a moment and it’ll make sense.  I visited England many times when I was living on the East Coast because it was cheaper, by far, to spend a week in London than it was to even fly home to Montana. Go figure. While over there, and this was 2002-2005 timeframe, something interesting happened. As 9/11 had already occurred here, the IRA realized that some of it’s tactics would soon alienate the US from supporting it in any way. Considering that there are more Irish in the US than in Ireland, this presented a problem. So the IRA changed their tactics.

The biggest one they changed was to stop dropping IEDs into garbage cans – or bins, as they are called there. And the result was that, over the times I spent visiting, it was noticeable that bins appeared and you didn’t have to haul your trash with you to your home to toss it away. They were right there, on the street.

It’s amazing how weird that seemed to me – “You don’t have bins because of terrorists putting bombs in them? Odd.” became “Hey, you’ve got bins!” over the course of 3 years. Because the goal of the IRA wasn’t just to terrorize, but to win independence, and they finally, after watching what real terrorists do, realized that they weren’t going to win anything following that path. And even when the IRA was very active, and very deadly, the British kept calm and kept going. Very much as they did during World War II, where they came up with the very epitome of this attitude:

Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scan

Now back to us. The terrorists won on 9/11. They didn’t have to kill us, they wanted to destroy our country, and they did, with our help. We gave up privacy rights, we passed the Patriot Act, we allow for violations of our Constitution in ways that would make any and every of our founding fathers cry out in despair. We have extraordinary rendition so that we can have our allies torture people, and sometimes we can’t be bothered with that, and we just torture them ourselves. We have legal opinions written saying that torture is allowable, that we can detain people indefinitely, and that anyone even suspected of treason is to be treated as an enemy of the state and a non-citizen, with no rights, and no recourse.

That means we aren’t the United States of America.

That means, the terrorists won.

Until yesterday. Yesterday we woke up, as a loud bang at a celebrated sporting event bolted us awake. We woke up to a bomb hitting a finish line at an even over a century old. We woke up, and we weren’t scared any more, we weren’t even ruffled by it. We saw our citizens, yes, CITIZENS, running toward the danger to help their fellow citizens, and the guests here to celebrate the human spirit by exerting themselves on a course marked with history and based in ancient history for all of Western Civilization.

We all woke up yesterday and realized that yes, there is evil and stupid and cowardice in the world, but it doesn’t define us. We don’t have to let it lead us, either. We woke up from a horrible nightmare where the terrorists won.

My only hope is that we stay awake now, and can fix the damage we’ve allowed ourselves to commit on ourselves. It won’t be easy, but it must be done.