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    Monday, May 01, 2006

    The Wages of Fear

    Matt has a great post up about fear and how it has driven the country. Nice post. Within in it, he quotes a Bush supporter.

    First, you need to understand my one fundamental assumption: that Islamic Fundamentalism must be stopped now, and that any price we pay now will be less than the price we pay if we do not confront immediately and aggressively....

    Going back to my fundamental assumption, you have to understand that I feel we're in a time where we may have to do a great many shitty things to come out of this alive. You're worried about moral high ground, and I'm worried about Americans everywhere still being able to suck oxygen.Any temporal, ethical, or spiritual price we pay will be terrible, but it will be infinitely less terrible than the price we have to pay if we continue to ignore the wolves at our door. All in all, it would seem that my willingness to do the exact opposite of what I was taught would make me a pretty poor Christian. I'm not happy about that, but I accept it. If it means that the next generation can finally have a chance to grow up in an era without fear, then I'll support any number of ruthless deeds without hesitation.

    Two problems here. First, this shows a basic misunderstanding of Islam and the threat posed by Bin Laden and his forces. Simply put, there is no monolithic Islamic threat looking to tear down the west. None. Never has been. Our actions, including torture and abuse, have done far more to grow the size of the threat against us than anything Bin Laden ever did. W. is the single biggest recruiter for Islamic terrorism in the history of the world. He couldn't have done more to create and incite an enemy against us if he had tried.

    Second, the statement shows a glaring lack of knowledge of U.S. history. There has never been a generation to grow up without fear, and there will never be a generation to grow up without fear. Further, the threat we currently face is nowhere near as significant as threats we have faced in the past, and yet we didn't have to resort to these sorts of measures (at least not on this scale) to prevail. There are no wolves at the door, at least not any wolves more dangerous or more frightening than the wolves that have been at the door in the past. For just one example, no one with any sense or knowledge of history can reasonably claim that the threat from Islamic terrorist is greater than the threat of nuclear destruction posed during the Cold War. And yet we didn’t completely abandon our principles and freedoms to fight that threat. We didn’t need to; we don’t need to now.

    Further, it’s not just that going against what you were taught is proper conduct makes you a bad Christian, it also makes you a bad American. The freedoms and rights in the U.S. Constitution don’t just make America different from other nations – these are the things that make us the greatest of all nations. How can one sell out these freedoms and rights and still make a claim to being an American? There is no America without them.

    Shortly after 9-11, the popular statement was that the terrorists hated us for our freedoms. It's not true, obviously not true. It was our actions, not our beliefs, that made us a target. (Let me insert the mandatory disclaimer that our actions around the globe did not justify the attacks on 9-11.) The past few years have shown that the people who truly hate our freedoms are the Administration and their supporters. But if the terrorists truly hated us for our freedoms, wouldn't we want to do all we can to support and celebrate and encourage and protect those freedoms? If they truly hate us for our freedoms, isn't restricting or eliminating those freedoms actually a form of caving in to the terrorists?

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