Don’t Let Terrorism Change Us, Again


In the wake of the Paris attacks my first reaction was to remember 9/11. It’s fair to say that what happened Friday in Paris, while killing far fewer, is the same kind of terrorist action we saw in 2001.

Now, what?

After 9/11 we all heard changing our daily lives would be giving in to terrorism. We changed anyway.

CNN’s Jack Cafferty wrote in 2011,

One of Osama bin Laden’s biggest victories was to make millions of Americans afraid.

So afraid that most of us stopped questioning our government – whether it meant launching unnecessary wars, removing some of our civil liberties, eroding constitutional rights, ignoring international treaties like the Geneva Conventions or torturing detainees.

So afraid that intrusive government security, especially invasive pat-downs and X-rays at airports, became the norm.

So afraid that we let politicians manipulate our fear to win elections and use Americans’ deaths to advance their own agendas.

Terrorism is an action taken by people who know they cannot win. It is a desperation move, a hail mary pass. That’s how we should treat it.

ISIS is not an existential threat to America. Yes, they can send handfuls of suicidal terrorists to hit soft targets. We have too many of those to adequately protect.

ISIS is not a threat to our way of life. They are not an army in the conventional sense. They can’t invade us or invade Europe. Their fear multiplier is terror.

Imagine if the West could respond to these terror attacks with increased and more effective efforts both at home and abroad, but also with the determination to demonstrate that it would act, but not overreact. That it would reaffirm its basic values and it would strive to restore normalcy in the face of brutality.

To do this would be to understand that terrorism is unique and that it depends for its effectiveness on the response of the onlooker. If we are not terrorized, then it doesn’t really work. – Fareed Zakaria

We have allowed radicals to eat into our civil liberties and sully our name as moral protectors of freedom.

What was said in 2001 was right: change and the terrorists win. I hope the French can see through their anger and grief to understand this. It’s difficult to do. It’s what America didn’t do.

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