Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Responses To Terrorism

For a second time this week, I find myself turning to something Robin Sears has written. Ruminating about the Manchester attack two nights ago, Sears remembers when he and his wife lived in London:

My wife left Harrod’s less than an hour before the IRA’s Christmas attack. The savage bombing of the Queen’s Horses and their trainers rattled my London office windows across the park. I watched a terrorist hit team spray women and children with blood and tissue, murdering one of Palestine’s saints, 10 feet in front of me in a crowded holiday hotel lobby. The Tokyo sarin attack took place a few trains after I had arrived at my office on that same line.

Something like that stays with you forever. But what matters is how you respond. A Trumpian response is exceedingly unhelpful:

Donald Trump’s attempts to whip up anti-Iranian and anti-Shia sentiment across the Muslim world is not merely morally offensive, it is dangerous to the safety of Americans and American allies. To deliberately incite state-to-state violence in the world’s most volatile region will also certainly raise the prospect of terror in other parts of the world. For as long as he is on the world stage, we must assume the threat barometer is swinging widely against stability or security.

We have been lucky -- so far. With the exception of  Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's one man assault on Parliament Hill, we have been spared the pain that Europe has known. But that doesn't guarantee our future. The best protection against terrorism is prevention -- and that does not mean arming ourselves to the teeth:

As we celebrate our 150 years of success in building a new form of nationhood, we cannot let our pride blind us to its perennial fragility. Canadian religious and public safety leaders, for example, need to deepen their conversations about the boundaries between acceptable and illegal hate speech, develop stronger models of shared engagement focused on mutual education and prevention, not merely surveillance and arrest.

Perhaps most important of all, Canadian business, civic, and community leaders need to make it clear to politicians and pundits who use racial, religious and ethnic divisions for votes or clicks, just how certain will be the destruction of their reputations and careers.

For it is not insensitive to the suffering of the Manchester families of the children who were victims of this latest atrocity to remember this: it is how we react to attack that is the path to less terror. We invest in prevention, we make punishment certain, and we double down on the peddlers of hate.

Something to think about. 

Image: Quote Master


Steve said...

Maybe someone worked in Japan for the Ontario Government and maxed out the credit cars to the point he had to be recalled. I would have done exactly the same thing.

Owen Gray said...

Who is the "he" you're referring to, Steve?

The Mound of Sound said...

It certainly sounds as though Sears et al have dodged a few bullets. I choose not to write about these attacks because I think the attention they garner is counter-productive.

Terrorism is criminal. It is a political act. It doesn't seek to defeat the target state but merely to spread fear, terror, through the civilian population to weaken the public's confidence in their government's ability to protect them, driving a wedge between the populace and their government and thereby gradually destabilizing the government. The goal is to force the government to over-react, suppress liberties, stress social cohesion and create disaffected groups that may turn on their government.

We in the West are easily made fearful. Our political caste knows it which is why fear mongering has become such an integral tool of political campaigning. To politicians fear they manage to inculcate pays hefty dividends at the polls which is why they use it - as a weapon - to motivate their own supporters.

Owen Gray said...

That's it exactly, Mound. Terrorism seeks to produce an over reaction. Sears warns against that.

Steve said...

His last name is the same as the soon to be bankrupt chain store, not Eatons.

Anonymous said...

I read a book, years ago, entitled- ARAFAT- TERRORIST OR FREEDOM FIGHTER.

Not all struggles for freedom, are created to be equal. The weapons change
according to the occupiers. Ireland. South Africa- conquered by a few nations,
then Mandela. Palestine- when all you have are sticks and stones, everything
looks like a window to freedom. In South & Central America, when all you've got
are shit-bombs...everything looks like shite.

I've done a lot reading on the history of Palestine, for years now, studied really, because of the historical importance of the area. Take away the names and races of both sides, and ask yourselves, what is right and what is wrong.
Simple for me to do. No real nuance, because-
"You cannot be on both sides of The Edmund Pettis Bridge".
Nor in the middle. No fence-sitting allowed.

And no one can convince me of otherwise.

Owen Gray said...

True, Steve, but I don't think there's any relationship. Certainly his political philosophy has little in common with the chain stores.

Owen Gray said...

Certainly you have to take a side, lovingit. But, as King and Mandela knew, the methods you choose -- in the end -- make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, Owen, a certain Bono sung that "people become willing to take up arms against their oppressors". As for the methods? Whatever talent, object, fist-in-the-air, bulletized method is any means necessary. What else is left for us to do while watching our children die starving, or seeing our living, life-giving, rivers being toxified. Not to mention the beautiful, awesome creatures we share this planet with...
It's the WMP that must be overcome, if we want live,'s fight or die.

Sears? I dunno...

Owen Gray said...

The longer those at the top refuse to recognize what's brewing on the bottom, lovingit, the more brutal the consequences will be.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, sir. Well said, Owen.