Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tom Friedman Writes a Post-Boston Bombing Op-Ed Straight Out of 2001

tell me more about how we don't let terrorists win, tomTom Friedman Writes a Post-Boston Bombing Op-Ed Straight Out of 2001:
The bombing of the Boston
marathon is yielding the usual post-tragedy op-eds. The most
important message after incidents like this is to
not be terrorized
. As Jesse Walker
noted yesterday
about the sociological aspect of tragedy
response, the popular idea that people panic at the scene of a
catastrophe but stay calm further from it is actually backward;
it’s the people far away from the immediate effects that are prone
to panic. And with panic comes bad decision making. Witness the
U.S. reaction to 9/11: a war in Afghanistan with no end-game that’s
lasted longer than the retributive mission for which it was
started, a war in Iraq that had nothing to do with 9/11 (even
though a
significant percentage
of Americans still think they’re
related), the PATRIOT Act, waterboarding, warrantless wiretapping,
TSA body scanners, border checkpoints miles away from any border,
stop and frisk, extrajudicial killings, and other erosions of our
civil liberties. You’d have to be living under a rock or in your
own security bubble not to notice these things. Enter Thomas
Friedman, New York Times
We still do not know who set off the Boston Marathon
bombs or why. But we do know now, after 9/11, after all the
terrorism the world has seen in the last decade, what the right
reaction is: wash the sidewalk, wipe away the blood, and let
whoever did it know that while they have sickeningly maimed and
killed some of our brothers and sisters, they have left no trace on
our society or way of life. Terrorists are not strong enough to do
that — only we can do that to ourselves — and we must never
accommodate them.
This column is about 11 and a half years too late. Terrorists
have profoundly changed America; the popular conception of rights,
how wars are fought, our outlook at the rest of the world (books
have literally been written on the subjects). Already the tragedy
in Boston is being used by politicians to stop everything
from the sequester to immigration reform
Nevertheless, Friedman doubles down, continuing:
And while we are at it, let’s schedule another Boston
Marathon as soon as possible. Cave dwelling is for terrorists.
Americans? We run in the open on our streets — men and women, young
and old, new immigrants and foreigners, in shorts not armor, with
abandon and never fear, eyes always on the prize, never on all
those “suspicious” bundles on the curb. In today’s world, sometimes
we pay for that quintessentially American naïveté, but the benefits
— living in an open society — always outweigh the
It’s as if he’s writing about another country in another world.
“We’ve been through 9/11. We probably overreacted then, but never
again,” Friedman adds, almost as an aside. But little of the
post-9/11 reaction was rolled back. We may run in the open on our
streets, for now, but we already have to take our shoes off and run
a security gamut just to get on a plane. The TSA is now part of our
Super Bowl tradition. New York City’s famously liberal residents
allow hundreds of thousands of stops of young black males to get a
couple hundred guns off the streets (a rate much lower than 1
percent); meanwhile the consistent, long-term drop in the violent
crime rate doesn’t move us toward criminal justice reform, but a
mass shooting will drive politicians to abrogate more of our
rights. The NYPD gets twenty-something odd calls a day about
suspicious packages, virtually always harmless. After the bombings
in Boston, that number tripled. I’ll agree with Friedman that
American naïveté drives U.S. policy, but not the kind that embraces
abandon and lacks fear but the kind that embraces fear and lacks