A Thoughtful View on Boston: Empathize but Don’t be Terrorized

I have highlighted security expert Bruce Schneier’s writings in the past, including his recent excellent article: “The Internet is a Surveillance State.”  In his piece yesterday published in The Atlantic, he offers us some serious wisdom about how to think about the tragic event in Boston.  His key message is to “empathize, but not be terrorized.”  My favorite excerpts are below:

As the details about the bombings in Boston unfold, it’d be easy to be scared. It’d be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something — anything — to keep us safe. 
 
It’d be easy, but it’d be wrong. We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators’ hands — and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don’t have to be scared, and we’re not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there’s one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized. 
 
It’s hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people — far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random — in this case involving an innocent child — senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.

There are things we can do to make us safer, mostly around investigation, intelligence, and emergency response, but we will never be 100-percent safe from terrorism; we need to accept that.

How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed. 
 
Don’t glorify the terrorists and their actions by calling this part of a “war on terror.” Wars involve two legitimate sides. There’s only one legitimate side here; those on the other are criminals. They should be found, arrested, and punished. But we need to be vigilant not to weaken the very freedoms and liberties that make this country great, meanwhile, just because we’re scared. 
Bruce is basically expressing the same sentiment as Benjamin Franklin 250 years ago when this wise founding father stated:

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This is as true today as it was at the time of the Revolutionary War.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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3 Comments

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  1. To my knowledge no one has as yet taken credit for this despicable act. Which seems strange, as one would expect that the perpetrator(s) would want people to know why they thought their cause was worth it.

    A ‘false-flag’ of some sort cannot as yet be ruled out. Such acts have been common currency in the past through a ‘strategy of tension’ to heard the populace in a desired direction. Google “Operation Gladio” as an example of such events.

    • I agree w the article and w Peter, and would like to add that I’m sceptical about the anticipated FBI ‘findings’, whatever those may be… The speed at which a 9/11 hijackers passport was ‘found in tact [!]‘ and on the street [!] among/in spite of the utter devastation, was stunning… as were the events at Bldg #7 [Silverstein: "so 'they' decided to 'pull' it... who were 'they' and how fast were 'they' able to place the demolition charges???], and the Pentagon. My scepticism extends to each and every one of these seemingly insane attacks, perpetrated by severely misguided, sociopathic, murdering loner lunatics… Where do ‘they’ find these people?
      What’s the ‘Leitmotif’ and what are the consequences?

  2. Aw, I can’t believe that a “government” would act against it’s own people

    … especially not OUR government headquartered in Jerusalem.

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