3 Notes about Terrorism

1. What commentators seem to miss about terrorism is how much fun it is, especially for men. We all grow up loving war games, whether Capture the Flag or chess. For the psychopaths who commit atrocities without qualm or conscience, it's a video game come to life. For the "terrorism experts" who put on grave faces and talk knowingly about whatever their interviewers ask, it's also real good fun, with less personal risk. And it pays well too. Even the interviewers love it: travel to exotic places, a sense of importance, and ratings, ratings, ratings! And consumers love it too, because war games are even better than the National Football League.

2. If you think the government is always the problem, and that its current leadership falls somewhere on the spectrum between incompetent and malevolent, then times must indeed be terrifying. Add to that our instant, international, and graphic news cycle that can scare the heck out of anyone. Mix with the psychopaths who use create news for fun and pleasure. Finish it off with self-serving demagogues who profit from creating and building fear. It's a miracle that sales of beds for hiding under haven't skyrocketed.

3. When people fear enough (and in the internet age fear's communication is much faster, more powerful, and wider spread than ever in history), they will turn to the meanest, stupidest, toughest-talking bully around, and give him all the powers he wants. History shows that, with only exceedingly rare exceptions, the result is a long-lasting catastrophe for everyone involved (except the bully, his cronies, and his family unto several generations). US voters face such a choice: on the one hand, sanity with Hilary or Bernie; on the other, catastrophe with any of the Republican candidates.

1 comment:

  1. In light of the seriousness of what has just occurred in France and in Mali, I'm disappointed in this uncharacteristically shallow and snarky post by my co-blogger! Perhaps he's become a fan of Stephen Colbert and hopes to emulate his style. I'm not going to attempt an in-depth response, but let me just make the following randomized points:

    1) You don't have to be a critic of government and our present political leadership to find the current times terrifying.

    2) Incompetence and malevolence does not constitute a spectrum - certain politicians can be way out there on both dimensions simultaneously.

    3) The out-of-power party in a two-party democracy enjoys the luxury offering up irresponsible policies, since it can generally get away with shifting blame for the consequences. Yes, the long line-up of current Republican presidential candidates seem to be carrying on this tradition, hoping to stand out from the pack. Should any of them, other than Trump, somehow become president, greater pragmatism would emerge.

    4) Demagoguery is indeed on the upswing in the current environment, egged on by our greedy and narcissistic media. Any hysteria-inducing issue from terrorism to the Confederate flag to urban police tactics is getting flogged for everything it's worth, with destructive political consequences.

    5) Although I did not, and am glad I did not, vote for Obama in either of his elections, I'm sympathetic with manner in which he has handled the issue of terrorism. I found the statement he made immediately following the Paris attacks to be both eloquent and appropriate. I made posts to this effect on a couple of right-leaning internet forums and was, of course, roundly denounced for near-treason. A symptom of the times.

    6) While I, of course, will not vote for Hillary Clinton, I do give her credit at least for sanity. So we're in agreement there.

    7) That same tolerance does not extend to the demented Bernie Sanders.