5 June 2017 — 0920 mdt
What terrorists cannot do to Britain,
the British may do to themselves
No modern western nation has ever had its government overthrown by terrorists. But that’s not the goal of the fools and zealots who murdered and maimed pedestrians in London over the weekend. “The aim of terror,” wrote The Guardian in a trenchant editorial directed at Prime Minister Theresa May, “is to scare us into changing the nature of our democracy.”
Prime Minister May scares easily:
Mrs May gave her most explicit pitch today to policing thoughts rather than acts. This is a bad idea. It rests on a strategy to counter ideology rather than one that counters terrorism. It penalises people for holding unspoken beliefs and promotes a form of thoughtcrime. Such a move would end up with Britain losing the fight against terrorism in a legal minefield of dogma and piety. Mrs May wants us to believe that we face a threat from doctrines that do not espouse violence but somehow mutate into terror by contingency. The conclusion of her speech is that a non-violent person who harbours anti-British, extremist thoughts – to be defined presumably by a future parliament – could be blacklisted, maybe even criminalised. This is a leap away from current policy, although Mrs May has been heading in this direction for years.
May, and President Trump, and the other politicians who think the answer to acts of terror is replacing the freedoms that are the foundation of democracy with the false security of a police state should heed Benjamin Franklin’s warning: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
As I put it in the speech I believe George W. Bush should have delivered on the evening of 9/11:
The terrorists intended to spill American blood, and they succeeded. But their ultimate goal was to frighten us into surrendering our freedoms in exchange for the illusion of greater safety. Their definition of victory is an America that reacts to today’s attacks not by remaining true to its principles, but by abandoning its freedoms for the false security of a police state. They hope to panic us into committing national suicide.
Opportunistic, demagogic, politicians such as Trump and May are a far greater threat to democracy than crazed jihadis and right wing extremists such as Timothy McVeigh.