Thursday, September 21, 2006

Refuse terror - choose life!

From Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram newsletter comes some good advice.
“I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets, or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want. ”
When terrorists can affect an election result, when they stop a holiday destination from attracting tourists, when we'd rather stay at home than travel abroard, when we look askance at people of "middle-eastern" descent ... then they have won a small victory. Let us remember, they are not soldiers, fighting for a specific state, they are terrorists, they cannot win our land - but they can batter our spirit, poison our hearts and spread the cancer of their evil philosophy.

Some commentators seem to acknowledge this, but want to not look at taking preventative measures - personally I think we need to walk the fine line between adapting to the new tactical security landscape, and refusing to be affected by terrorism. What does Bruce say?
“But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.”
We've certainly seen enough "security theatre" in the Australian political landscape. Personally I believe in the government's words a bit more than the opposition - if only because they are expected to back them up with action. I think that Prime Minister John Howard does an interesting job of portraying the image of a steadfast, unworried leader - yet he is accused of promoting fear and division within Australia. That might be politics warring with personality - but I find my own reaction is somewhat similar. I want to remain unmoved, yet I find myself questioning why certain issues were either ignored, or swept under the carpet in years gone by - decisions that seem now to be foolhardy.

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