America: A Terrorist’s Best Friend


The point of terrorism is to, you know, scare people so badly they do things they wouldn’t, in a more rational moment, otherwise do.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s rarely 100% successful, and frequently has unintended consequences.  That makes it a dicey proposition, which is why pretty much nobody resorts to it until they have (or feel they have) no other options.

That being the case, the terrorists who attacked America must be gobsmacked by just how well they succeeded, and for how long.

This country panicked after 9/11.  It just flat panicked.  Its people panicked.  Its leaders panicked.  It engaged in a years-long series of irrational, fear-driven, drama-queen acts, counter to its own best interests, its own most fundamental principles, and its own laws.

During and immediately after the presidential election of 2008, it seemed we had finally stopped hyperventilating and were starting to look around and see what a mess we’d made of ourselves.

Not so much, as it turns out.

Apparently, 90% of the US Senate remains abjectly terrified of anybody who is a terrorist, might be a terrorist, might have known a terrorist, or looks like somebody who might have known a terrorist.  Our senators seem to be under the impression that the people we’re holding in Gitmo are Magneto, Mystique, Juggernaut, and the rest of the evil X-Men clan.  No prison (other than Gitmo) can hold them, and if one of them escaped inside our borders — gasp! — why, they would immediately seize control of Cerebro and kill all the humans – er, Americans.

Nut up, people.  Stop behaving like frightened children and chumps.  You’re letting the enemy win.  You’re handing them victories.  You’re doing exactly what they wanted you to do.  Almost 8 years later, you’re still acting out of terror.  Get a grip.  You’re the leaders of the strongest nation in the world.  Act like it.

Assuming we manage not to panic ourselves right out of existence, we’re going to look back at these years as the Era of National Cowardice.

Update (5/22/09): A reader from the Netherlands writes in to TPM to offer America a waaambulance.


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8 Responses to “America: A Terrorist’s Best Friend”

  1. Sandi Says:

    Amen. I am sick to death of all these NIMBYs and their lily-livered constituents. I’m about to write my senators and representative and let them know that I would be just fine with having alleged terrorist prisoners in Alexandria or Fairfax or wherever it is they have been talking about putting them, thank you very much. I will sleep fine at night. People need to get a freaking grip. It’s as though we’ve lost sight of the purpose of closing Guantanamo and even that opening the place up was a bad thing to begin with because of an irrational fear.

  2. unicorntx Says:

    Reminds me of the late 50’s-early 60’s. The RED MENACE was going to gobble up the globe and we’d all be kow-towing to Moscow!

    Now it’s the ISLAMIC MENACE! We’ll all have to know “In which direction is Mecca?”.

    • urbino Says:

      Seems to me this is worse. I mean, at least the USSR actually did present a real, existential threat to America. They couldn’t have invaded and forced us into communism, but they could have nuked us off the map.

      Now we’re running scared from what amounts to a bunch of transnational hoodlums.

  3. michaellasley Says:

    I’ve nothing new or insightful to add. I really can’t imagine that people are actually living in fear of the things they say we’re living in fear of. I mean, really? We’re worried about someone escaping from a supermax prison?

    I like how Obama’s plan to evaluate each case against each prisoner carefully and find a way to deal with that situation most effectively has turned into an invitation for everyone at Gitmo, including those who truly hate America, to come to our homes for a BBQ. Reading or hearing speeches by those who want to keep Gitmo open, you’d think Obama hated America as much as Bin Laden.

    • urbino Says:

      That last sentence gets at something that has driven me apey for the last few years: a) that members of the GOP regularly make that very implication about Dems (or, in Michele Bachmann’s case, just come right out and say it), and b) that the Dems are so weak-kneed that they don’t confront it head on.

      It’s clear that the GOP base and its representatives actually believes Democrats are the enemy. Not the GOP’s opposition, but America’s enemy. That’s incredibly dangerous.

      As for the Dems, well, if they are America’s enemy, America’s never been so safe, ’cause the Dems have all the grit and gumption of a mud puddle. (Harry Reid, I’m looking directly at you.)

      At some point, some Democratic senator or representative has got to stand up and very calmly and deliberately say, “Look, there are some things nobody gets to say about me. Nobody. That I hate America is one of them. If you say that again, Mr. [whichever GOPer is saying it at the moment], I’m not going to argue that you’re wrong, and I’m not going to ask for an apology. I’m going to lay you out.” And then absolutely follow through, if necessary.

      Why should they say that? Because it’s exactly how they ought to feel about it, and because force is the only thing the current generation of conservatives understand or respect.

      Josh Marshall at TPM has for many years been calling this GOP tactic “B*tch-Slap Politics.” They keep using it because it keeps working. It has worked for them for . . . hmm, how long ago was the Gingrich revolution? 15 years? Actually, it goes back even further, to the Kitty Dukakis question, which wasn’t asked by a Republican, but which they instantly fixated on and ran with, and which Michael Dukakis never responded to with any gumption. They b-slapped him, and he reacted like a b.

      Dems, if you want to stop getting b-slapped, you have to stand up and demonstrate you’re not a b.

      By caving on this Gitmo thing, you’ve once again demonstrated that you are a b.

  4. Terry Says:

    His middle name is Hussein. HUSSEIN! He must hate America!

  5. urbino Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, “Hussein” literally translates as “hater of American pig-dogs.”

    I’ll have to check the original Greek on that, though.

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