Hogan's Alley

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Are Fears Of Terrorism Exaggerated? Where's The Proof?

Glenn Greenwald at the blog, Hullabaloo, proposes that the left side of the blogosphere must demonstrate to Americans that terrorism is not the problem that it is cracked up to be by the Administration. Only then will people see that the true dangers facing them come from Bush and company. Key quote:

And literally for four years, this is what Americans have heard over and over and over from their Government – that we face a mortal and incomparably powerful enemy on the precipice of destroying us, and only the most extreme measures taken by our Government can save us. We are a nation engaged in a War of Civilizations whose very existence is in imminent jeopardy. All of those plans for the future, dreams for your children, career aspirations, life goals – it’s all subordinate, it’s all for naught, unless, first and foremost, we stand loyally behind George Bush as he invokes extreme and unprecedented measures necessary to protect us from this extreme and unprecedented threat.

It is that deeply irrational, fear-driven view of the world which has to be undermined in order to make headway in convincing Americans that this Administration is engaged in intolerable excesses and abuses of its power. The argument which needs to be made is the one that we have seen starting to arise in the blogosphere and elsewhere: that living in irrational fear of terrorists and sacrificing our liberties and all of our other national goals in their name is the approach of hysterics and cowards, not of a strong, courageous and resolute nation.

Greenwald thinks that he and colleaguesgues have struck on something here that is striking fear into the hearts of the opposition. It is an interesting concept. There is really nothing external to worry about. As stated by John Kerry, whom he quotes, "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance."

If you expect, as I did, that Greenwald will provide evidence for placing al Qaeda into proper perspective you will be sadly disappointed. All this piece does, as in the quote above, is to exaggerate the views of those of us concerned about terrorism and to posit, without one shred of proof, that a minimalist view of the danger is appropriate. Not one shred. Only time will tell, but this tactic reminds me most of Neville Chamberlain's equally unsubstantiated claim that Mr. Hitler could be reasoned with. Very civilized and very dumb.

In the face of facts such as 9/11, Madrid and London surely some evidence is required that proves there is no serious danger, some definition of "nuisance" that presumably sets an acceptable death toll, etc. On the facts, it would appear that the only argument Greenwald and friends could reasonably make is that short of a nuclear or biological mass attack, the destruction of a few buildings and a few thousand people is just the cost of doing business in the modern world and far from justification fordiminutionution of the full array of civil rights arrayed in the Constitution.

But they don't even have the balls to make that argument. All they provide is derision of an exaggerated version of the views of the other side.