Terrorism Denial Syndrome

Once again, we’re hearing complaints about the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and its handling of citizens at airports. The issue always boils down to, “Which is more important? Freedom, or safety?”

This is a question that only a moron would ask.

The fact is: There is no necessary choice between freedom and safety. The answer is: Both matter! Both freedom and safety are essential to human progress, comfort and survival. Free people don’t need to be chronically unsafe. Free people are actually free to defend themselves, any time they wish. The definition of freedom is living under a strong government that protects the physical safety of the population, and essentially nothing else. It does so with moral clarity and with great efficiency, because it has nothing else to do.

In a free society, free people are free to vote into office people who would actually attack and destroy their enemies, making security concerns at airports (and elsewhere) non-existent or at least less significant. The American people have not done this. In part, this is because they’re not free. They allow government to manage the whole operation of airports. If all of airline service — airports as well as airlines — were allowed to operate in a free-market, driven by profit and self-responsibility (including legitimate legal liability) rather than government political posing and red tape, who knows how much safer things would be. But that’s not going to happen. I can’t imagine even one American voting for the privatization of even one airport any time soon.

But there’s an even more important matter that privatization of the airline industry could not solve: American foreign policy. The United States government will not go on the offensive against governments that openly sponsor terrorism. Iran would be at the top of my list. The last American President knew and acknowledged that Iran was a great enemy, but he chose to do nothing whatsoever about it. Instead, he went after a less important enemy, Iraq, which has served only to strengthen the danger of the primary enemy, Iran. The current President is against going after enemies, on principle. In fact, he’s opposed to the very concept of war (even in self-defense), and refuses to use the word war when he speaks. Although he’s organizing some kind of incoherent military mission in Afghanistan, Obama would never initiate or support an attack against the Iranian regime, nor would he assist Israel in doing so. Instead he calls for peace talks with the Iranian government who responds with the diplomatic equivalent of, “Are you kidding? We’re going to destroy you and your allies as soon as we can, you Infidel — we really mean it! Just watch us. And you’re proposing peace talks?!”

It’s easy to blame Bush and Obama for their self-evidently mindless policies, but the root of the problem must lie with the American people, a people who have simply gone to sleep on the issue of terrorism. History will record: In the years after 9/11, the American people went into denial on the subject of terrorism. But denial and evasion, while they might (temporarily) block something from your consciousness, cannot make it depart from reality. Reality exists whether you choose to recognize its existence, or not. You might not agree with me that an attack against terrorist-sponsoring nations, such as Iran, is worthwhile or justified. But you cannot ignore the fact that nations such as this mean business, they have attacked us before (using terrorist organizations as armies) and they’re going to attack us again.

The situation at airports is a symptom of this sick evasion and denial, by the majority of Americans as well as their political and intellectual leaders. I sometimes watch with horror this sickness play out, in the American media, as people fight over an issue that has nothing to do with the danger at hand. Americans become outraged at what government is doing at airports. But most of them likewise conclude, “But it’s worth it, to be safe.” They accept the false choice between “It’s either freedom or security” because, to them, it’s easier than facing what the real truth is: That we’re unwilling to fight back against the people trying to destroy us. Part of the sickness in this whole fiasco lies in its implication that anything the government does at airports will make anybody safer. Airport “security” is a farce and a travesty of epic proportions, something that George Orwell himself could not have conceived in fiction.

Both outrage and support over the policies of the TSA serve as an excuse for not addressing the real issue: Militant religious dictators are at war with our civilians, and the civilians are not empowering their government to do anything about it.