My friend NEO published a piece which deals with a subject on which I had intended to write. Since he did so, I would refer you to his post as he did an excellent job as always of giving details on the subject of closing our embassies this Sunday because of “fear of al-Qaeda” malevolence”.
We are, through the month of August under a “high security watch”. Those of us who remember back to September 11, 2001 will recall how the threat level was indicated by a barometer of varying colors. We took those indications seriously after the events of that fateful day.
The warning coming from our government is that people who are travelling – especially to the Middle East should take extra precautions. I would imagine that anyone who had business in the Middle East, which is perhaps the world’s most volatile powder keg, probably already knew to do that.
Together with the traveler’s advisory and the announcement of the closing of a number of our embassies was the statement that “due to NSA electronic surveillance, thirteen potential ‘situations” had been diffused before terrorists could carry them out.”
Perhaps this will sound a bit like paranoia – a mindset I try to avoid – but I find that statement less consoling than I do self-serving. It is, of course, hard for anyone to prove or disprove that thirteen separate incidents did not occur for any specific reason – electronic surveillance or otherwise.
It’s hard for me not to wonder that if NSA surveillance is so effective, why did we have the tragedy at the Boston Marathon? And it’s hard for me not to ask the question, is the recent threat warning and the embassy closing really due to any actual threats (real or imagined) – or is this just a dog and pony show to diffuse the rising anger coming from the American people about the surveillance which our government has unconstitutionally engaged in on all of us?
Perhaps that sounds like paranoia to you. If the NSA scandal were unique – I might question my point of view myself – as I often do. But as we all know, the NSA is merely the latest in a litany of scandals in which the administration has voluntarily embroiled itself.
But for a moment, and merely for the sake of discussion, let’s take the recent advisory at face value. The question that we need to ask is, “Is the closing of our embassies the right response?”
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life it is that evil exists. Closing our eyes to it and attempting to hide from it merely strengthen its resolve to destroy us, taking our “prudent” retreat as a sign of weakness. In order to destroy evil we must, as much as we would like to avoid doing so, confront it. This is a principle known as moral courage. That is a principle that has been a pillar of American action throughout our history.
We may try to placate evil (in this case terrorism), but like the greedy blackmailer who has received his demanded ransom, he now comes back and asks for more. And he will never stop asking until we stop allowing him to suck us dry.
There is little argument that the terrorists of whom I speak, share a common bond. That bond is Islam – or what we politely call “radical” Islam. Is there another version? Like the blackmailer, Islam treats all who are not believers as though they are second-class people and tolerates their presence only if they pay a special “tax”. If that isn’t blackmail, perhaps I need to get a better understanding of what is.
And we in America, like most of our friends in Europe have gone along with paying this tax – but we call it “accommodation”. Take a look at Europe to see how well that strategy has worked. The recent outbursts in France, the beheading of a soldier in the UK, the list goes on ad nauseam.
You can only deal reasonably with people who are themselves reasonable. Terrorists are, virtually by definition, not members of that group. And so it is high time that we stopped dealing with them as though they were. It is high time that we stopped making excuses for those who have no good will toward us and treat them as the evil enemy that they are. When reason and logic fail, we need to exert the considerable force that we have to make our statement clear.
The closing of our embassies makes exactly the opposite statement and only serves to further empower this evil. It can smell weakness, lack of resolve and the abandonment of moral principles. These are the pheromones it uses to track down its prey. And we are that prey.
We know what happened to the first two little pigs when the Big Bad Wolf came to their homes. They sought shelter with their brother in his well-built house, believing they were safe and secure that all the wolf’s huffing and puffing could not blow it down.
But unlike the third little pig who slammed the door in the wolf’s face, our wolf has already entered our home through the back door and is contemplating his next meal.
The message we should be sending is a simple one.
“We are open for business as usual. Be advised that we are armed, dangerous and ready to apply deadly force if you provoke us to do so. Enter at your own risk.”