Thursday, July 10, 2008

'We need rules' - hang on a second

Let's take this one first. The director of Fatherland Homeland Security said at the "Aspen Ideas Festival":
“We’re going to live with risk for a very long period of time. We need to develop a set of rules that are somewhere between complacency and hysteria.” – Michael Chertoff
Our rulers prefer us hysterical — we're easier to control that way — but they must appear to us as reasonable, so they make statements like this one. What exactly is the point between complacency and hysteria?

Complacency is a state of being utterly unprepared for the one-in-a-billion chance that a terrorist is going to try to board an airplane today. Hysteria is a state of such utter fear that innocent travelers are pulled aside and their bodily cavities searched for weapons. If the goal is a point "somewhere between" complacency and hysteria, why does the status quo tilt so merrily toward hysteria?

I recently stumbled onto a lovely piece of rational thinking I somehow have overlooked for almost a year. It's called "I Am Not Afraid" and is available from James Leroy Wilson and the Downsize D.C. folks. A cogent sample:
Here's what it means to not be afraid, here's what it means to fight a real war on terror, and here's what it means to win that war, instantly:

* It means that you do not participate in the public hysteria when terrorists attack, but instead react proportionally, placing the terrorist act in its proper place in the vast scheme of crimes, accidents, disease, natural disaster, and generic tragedy that is man's lot on earth.

* It means that you do not permit the politicians to feel terror on your behalf. It means that you discourage them from fomenting and exploiting hysteria to expand their own power at the expense of traditional American principles.

* It means that you view terrorism as a matter for international police work, under the rule of law, and not a justification for bloated government programs, reckless wars, or the shredding of the Bill of Rights.
That reference to the Bill of Rights is important, because it's the name of a very handy "set of rules that are somewhere between complacency and hysteria" that served us well long before there was a Department of Fatherland Homeland Security. If Chertoff and his handlers ever read the thing, their actions show utter contempt for it.

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