Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Dec/09

26

“Appeasement” watch

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I expect the charge that Obama brought on this latest terrorist attempt with his Nobel-Prize-inducing multilateral delusions and toadying to Muslims to start rolling in any minute now.  Meanwhile, we are undoubtedly going to get yet another layer of after-the-fact security overkill at airports.   The chances are still hugely higher that you’re going to be killed in a car than from a bomb on an airplane.

15 comments

  • Rob Sherwood · December 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    You’re one for two, and it’s still early.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27security.html

  • mnuez · December 27, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I can’t stop saying often enough how important Heather is. Your combination of skeptical thinking combined with a steady drumbeat of smacking down the most pervasive and lazily easy form of religious thinking along with your indiviualist non-partisan stance could only be improved by using these talents and proclivities to honestly and fearlessly address the greatest and most powerful lie in our culture, the equality meme. I for one LOVE Derb’s gusto on the subject but sadly he chooses to stop thinking creatively about the problem once he gets beyond identifying it. He’s a “citizenist” who proposes “solutions” to the grand fact of inequality that would leave 30% of his reputed loved ones (the aforementioned “citizens”) as de facto slaves, or – as he recently 1984’d – dead (immortality would be sin for such simpletons -precisely how much mortality would be just right for the proles he doesn’t say).

    So what of it Heather? Ready to hold your breath and take the plunge? The key, it would seem to me, is to self-confident and unapologetic, witness Derb and Wade vs. Watson and Imus. Best of luck!

    mnuez

  • Hans Brinker · December 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    To the contrary, everyone feels much safer now that the conciliatory Mr. Obama is president. This is true regardless of how many muslim terrorists succeed in attacking the US during Mr. Obama’s presidency. All of us are convinced that Mr. Obama is a man of substance, and a man of his word. He rises above the trivial concerns of terrorism and national security. We like that about him.

  • Polichinello · December 28, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Given Dubya and McCain’s alternatingly cowardly venal approaches to both immigration and ethnic issues, I doubt their rule would have prevented this incident, either.

  • Clark · December 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    That’s what’s so sad. It’s not like there have been terribly good choices the past 4 elections. Dole vs. Clinton? Gore vs. Bush? Bush vs. Kerry? McCain vs. Obama?

    What’s so depressing is that a lot of what goes on is so predictable. Which, given the way politics works, makes me think that ultimately the blame is on an uneducated largely apathetic populace. They want something done and done quickly but have no real understanding of the issues. If the government didn’t put in some stupid and ineffective restrictions people would be more upset than if they did. (Although I’m praying the latest lunacy has finally gotten bad enough to reach even the ignorant masses)

  • Deklane · December 29, 2009 at 12:10 am

    “The chances are still hugely higher that you’re going to be killed in a car than from a bomb on an airplane.”

    Yes, but… I am personally one of the most obscure mortals on Earth, and I’ve still been indirectly touched by all this.

    1. I’ve been on Northwest’s Amsterdam to Detroit flight a couple of times.
    2. A friend of mine worked in one of the office buildings next to the World Trade Center and was right there on the spot when it all happened.
    3. My nephew worked in mid-town Manhattan at the time and saw things from that vantage point.
    4. I lived in Phoenix during 9-11, thousands of miles from New York — and it turned out some kind of terrorist “flight trainer” involved in the attack had lived in my apartment complex. See–

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2001/arizonarepublic092801.html

    As I said, I’m really obscure and unimportant — but I can still point to several connections within a few degrees of separation of famous terrorist incidents. If terror hits me that close to home, even if I’m not directly involved or an actual victim myself, it has to make me a little concerned. And it can do the same to a lot of other people, many much closer to events than I am. It’s not reasonable for people to be concerned even if the odds are against being killed?

  • Mike H · December 29, 2009 at 5:04 am

    I’m surprised Heather of all people bring out the old “it’s more likely to die in a car crash than X” canard. You’re more likely to die of a heart attack, cancer, stroke, diabetes and what else than to fall victim to murder so I guess we can dissolve the police force and stop caring about crime. To put it mildly, that’s not the tenor I get from Heather’s articles.

  • Don · December 29, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Deklane: Have you done the degree of separation thing for yourself and those who died from lung cancer?

  • Carl S · December 29, 2009 at 10:22 am

    “The chances are still hugely higher that you’re going to be killed in a car than from a bomb on an airplane.”

    I too was struck by the inanity of this statement. I’d expect this type of rubbish from your typical journalist, not from Ms. MacDonald, whose logic is typically impecable.

  • Don Kenner · December 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I don’t understand the reasoning here. Both Bush and Obama’s revolving door Guantanamo resulted in releasing two of the savages who planned what would’ve been a horrific mid-air slaughter. Can we not criticize Obama for this without being accused of neo-con security overkill?

    The 7th century savage with the panty-bomb was on a “watch” list for pete’s sake (which evidently means watching him board a plane). While we don’t need a frenzy of new security measures (though some we actually enforce would be nice) this is NOT something we should just resign ourselves to put up with (any more than a rape in Central Park; less likely than an auto accident). And Obama’s endless Muslim butt-kissing IS annoying.

    Besides, we do the security dance because we don’t have the stones or the brains to do what really needs to be done. And if you don’t know what those things are, ask Mr. Derbyshire.

  • Heather Mac Donald · December 29, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Mike H: A valid point, but for some populations (i.e., young black and Hispanic males), the risk of becoming a crime victim is extraordinarily high. The Chicago schools superintendent has determined that about 300 Chicago public school students stand a greater than 20% chance of getting shot in the next two years, based on the profile of previous victims. Maybe some populations face a similar severe medical risk, but I don’t know of anyone in this country who faces a similar terrorism risk. Policing clearly has a disproportionate beneficial impact on inner city blacks. But in any case, police officers do more than protect against murder, so even in a city with a low black population and hence a low violent crime rate, a police force still has an important role to play in maintaining respect for the law.

  • Mike H · December 29, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    @Heather Mac Donald

    I fully agree with you on policing. But what I was getting at was the fact that the kind of argument about car crashes is very frequently made by leftists with regards to crime as well. However as you and others point out vigorously there is a social, psychological and moral impact of crime which goes well beyond the people directly affected and that is, of course, reflected in the “broken windows” approach which you champion and with which with I entirely agree.

    My contention and hence the basis of my point was that this applies to terrorism as well and thus combating terrorism is not something whose worth can be directly attained by counting the number of people directly affected by it in this or that time span. The very word terrorism points at this factor and the people engaging in it are quite aware of it as well and obviously aiming for this social effect. In fact as a result of past major attacks and future high impact scenarios, the relative randomness of targets and, very importantly, the political and cultural challenge attached to it, the social and psychological effects are both more universal and more severe in impact than that of simple crime and thus require a much broader response from government as well.

    However in spite of the added universal, political dimension to terrorism the issues are very much linked (which is why I wrote what I wrote) as in both instances the main mission of any response is to not just deal with perpetrators but also to inspire confidence and strength in communities which enables them to not just cope with the problem at hand but also encourages general dynamism, nothing inspires confidence more than felt security and a sense that we can defend ourselves and can repel any threat from bad guys whether it’s the local gangs or terrorists. It’s no coincidence that the liberal establishment is soft on both, the ideology behind their response is the same in both cases, an aesthetic distaste for force, an emotional dislike of authority, a sense of guilt for being better off and a litany of soft social science explanations which tend to culminate in responsibility being placed on “the man” rather than the culprits themselves.

    The reasons to ignore their complaints are similar and sound as well, I am just taken aback a little that you seem to be somewhat sympathetic to their point of view on this issue and I’d love a more thorough clarification/explanation of your position.

  • jimb · December 30, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Mike H :I’m surprised Heather of all people bring out the old “it’s more likely to die in a car crash than X” canard. You’re more likely to die of a heart attack, cancer, stroke, diabetes and what else than to fall victim to murder so I guess we can dissolve the police force and stop caring about crime. To put it mildly, that’s not the tenor I get from Heather’s articles.

    I don’t see the logic here. We don’t have more deaths from diseases because there aren’t enough doctors. And since terrorism can never be completely eradicated whereas one day diseases might, I don’t quite see the parallel here.

    I’ve always read the terrorism/auto fatalities as a sort of cost-benefit analysis. When we consider how much we have already spent on the War on Terror, that comes to over a trillion dollars. When we’re ready to impliment a public policy with a seemingly bottomless fund of tax dollars, it only makes sense to weigh the costs vs. the amount of risk. If we have a trillion dollars to spend, couldn’t some of it be better used elsewhere?

    Obviously we should maintain our fight against terrorism, but if this recent incident means we now must step up our airport security, we have to determine whether the amount we spend will be worth it, especially since there will never be a foolproof security system.

  • Clark · December 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I think the problem is that we think in terms of absolute black and white where [i]any terrorism[/i] is too much. Rather than thinking in terms of how to minimize it while recognizing we can’t eliminate it we take actions trying to eliminate it. Given the realities of the Islamic world this is an unrealistic goal. (And amazingly unrealistic when you consider the actual strategies implemented to achieve this) However to placate the public we get silly ineffective practices. The typical political stratagem of passing some law that does nothing except punish the innocent and claiming they solved the problem.

    Were we to switch to a view and strategy of minimizing the effects of the problem rather than eliminating it I think things would be far more effective. Not just in the war on terrorism but also the so-called war on drugs (which has been less than effective – it’s expensive and its only effect has been to make drugs better and cheaper).

    Ultimately blaming the politicians on this is silly though, how ever much we may hate their actions. (In both parties) The politicians act that way because were they to act intelligently on the issue the public would punish them. It’s the mass public, largely ignorant, who is unwilling to really grapple with the issues. Were they to change their views I guarantee the politicians would eventually come along.

  • Mike H · December 30, 2009 at 11:35 am

    @jimb

    I must admit that I do not actually get what the first part of your response is trying to express. The only parallel I drew in my post is that crime and terrorism must be fought vigorously by society even if the individual odds of falling victim to a serious crime or an act of terrorism aren’t particularly high. I don’t get how your point there really relates.

    And as an aside, terrorism is a lot less of a constant in human existence than disease so I don’t know where you take the optimism from that diseases could be entirely defeated yet terrorism couldn’t. It confuses the issue as well as the conflict isn’t against the tactic of terrorism per se but a specific breed of ideological militancy (Islamism) which engages in the tactic of terrorism.

    On the rest, the issue of cost efficiency is much broader than merely “how big is the chance you are affected by a terrorist attack” as a successful terrorist attack is not merely a disease or an accident or a “man-caused disaster” – it’s a highly ideological, political act of violence designed to advance a cause and usually is aimed at an entire nation or group. If you don’t manage to go after the people who are behind these things and defeat their cause, there will be more and more of it until the enemy gets what they want. There is a direct relationship between your response and future conduct on part of the population and the enemy.

    To explain it with a simple analogy, if you trip and fall on your way home and you break your hand it might not require any action beyond taking care of the injury and other people are relatively unaffected by your mishap. However if a man walks up to you, grabs your hand and beats it with an iron bar until it’s fractured, you might feel a personal impulse to do something about it beyond putting a pack of ice on the hand.

    If you fail to do anything this may send a message to both the guy who broke your hand and his buddies (we can’t be touched, we can do what we want, you are weak), other people who have to deal with him and his buddies (better not cross them) and other people who happen to just live in the area and hear about the event (this area isn’t safe, maybe we should move/invest somewhere else). And next time the guy may have a gun, he might decide harassing you on the street isn’t enough so he might follow you home, attack your family etc. until you have a worst case scenario. If a guy blows up an airplane and you let it slip calculating that it’d be more expensive to go after the people behind it and to enact measures to prevent future attacks than to just bury the victims and be glad that it’s pretty unlikely to die that way – what do you think happens?

    Mind you, I do not want my point to be seen as an endorsement of keeping you from using the restroom an hour before the plane lands. A lot of the actual restrictions seem knee-jerk and pointless and in fact are contradicted by a refusal to aggressively fight the ideology behind the aggressors and to target efforts directly at the people espousing that ideology.

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