Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Terror, Explained.

Absolutely worth a read, from Shoshana Hebshi at Stories from the Heartland blog. I also had to repost what commenter Ian said, because I couldn't agree more.

See, the purpose of terrorism is to cause exactly this. “Terrorism” isn’t about killing people — it’s about terrorizing. That’s why it’s called “terrorism” and not “killing-people-ism.”

Killing people is a means to an end. The end is to destroy a society, by breaking down the rule of law and social contract. And we do this better than any other nation on Earth. We’ve gone from a light unto the nations, a place which may not have always done the right thing, but was always on the right path, to a place that is an example of a police state, a cautionary tale to other nations. And why? Because we have reacted in exactly the way that al Qaeda was hoping.

In doing so, we’ve proven that we are a PERFECT target for terrorism. A terrorist who attacks the United States gets EXACTLY the goal they want: a repressive, over-zealous, fascist security force which destroys the freedom and liberty that this country once had.

Once upon a time, people thought that “freedom” was a thing that you were willing to risk your life to fight for. This country was founded on the notion that you had to risk your security to guarantee your freedom — and that that is a bargain well worth making.

Now? We trade in all our freedom for a tiny bit of security, the act of a craven coward. And we harm other people in the process.

I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country where three people could be detained like that, because someone was afraid. Terrorism requires people to be terrified.

And the people who are terrified are craven. And willing to harm their fellow citizens because of their own terror.

It was never more visceral for me than a train ride to DC shortly after the attacks. An Arab-looking gentleman was clutching a paper bag tightly in the row across from me. He went to the bathroom once, then again. The second time, he brought his carry-on bag, and was gone for far too long. I sat paralyzed - utterly terrified - because I was sure that he was going to emerge with a bomb strapped to his chest. I was sure it was the end.

I did nothing. I just waited there: unmoving, heart pounding.

He came out wearing more casual clothes. Then he pulled a slice of pizza from the brown paper bag.

So yes, indeed, Ian. In that respect, the terrorists have won.


Anonymous said...

Ian, your comments make me sad, because I do not live in the country that you described and therefore, I cannot relate to it. I can only imagine from my readings and from what I have seen on television, what you must be going through every day. I think you should consider getting out of the country that you described, it sounds like a horrible place, and clearly, you are not right for it. Most likely, the horrors that you are forced to witness and experience will stop if you can just escape your prison. I pray for you and for your safety. I weep for your pain. I hope for your happiness. Godspeed friend, and may you seek and find a more perfect place in this world.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with this view is that it fails to take into account that our, formerly perfect, society, was formed through repeated acts of war and violence. We are all here today because those that came before us killed. In many ways, they terrorized, they destroyed, they conquered, the stole, the fought, they did all these things and many more.

Man is the perfect weapon.

Some of us have more self control, but all of us, no matter how perfect we may think we are or try to be, are guilty of something. We might not all be terrorists, but in our own small (and sometimes not so small) ways, we prove the statement that man is the perfect weapon.

At the end of the day, it is each person's choice to be a weapon of good or evil. Then it is each person's choice to define what is good and what is evil. Then it is up to others to judge all those choices and actions...rinse, wash, repeat.

We are all broken at some point and fixing yourself is your own personal choice and job. In the quietly but incredibly powerful words of Andy Dufresne, you either get busy living or get busy dying.

Just don't try to force your choice on someone else, that's against the rules.

Good luck with your choice.

As for Ian, thanks for your insight, you have clearly made your choice, enjoy it, it seems to suit you.

Anonymous said...

Did Ian throw a little Braveheart in there?

Homevalley said...

Oh Anon, I respect your opinion, as I respect Ian's, though he did have the temerity to post his name. As a white woman, I probably won't be strip-searched at the airport in the near future... So, hard for me to really understand what Shoshana experienced. I'm guessing you have not had a security guard's hand on your delicate bits lately (if you have, apologies), so it may be difficult for you to understand how dehumanizing the experience was... All because someone thought she looked suspicious. What is this precedent? I understand your frustration with Ian (surely I expected the comment to be somewhat divisive), but how do you reconcile this with our traditional ideals of freedom and liberty?

Homevalley said...

Second Anon, I like this idea of choice, to be sure, but which choices are you referring to? I don't have a choice about the way I look, or how others perceive me. I have a choice about how I perceive others. When your choice violates my civil liberties, I'm alarmed. Let's all choose empathy: how would we feel in her shoes?

Thanks for the Andy Dufresne... He always puts things into perspective.

Homevalley said...

Further, I think Ian's point was about the nature of terrorism... We're all fucking scared. That's the point. No one says boo until a person is missing for at least 24 hours, right? But a few Arab looking travelers on a plane in one area, and we call in the SWAT team? That ain't right.