By N.S. Palmer, Ph.D.
Today’s New York Times chronicles the American government’s quest for ever-more-intrusive airport security systems. The ostensible purpose is to thwart terrorists and wannabes like last week’s Nigerian “pants bomber.”
But what if the solution to terrorism is much simpler?
The fact is that Americans suffer from classic “doublethink” about terrorism.
Doublethink, a term coined in George Orwell’s novel 1984, is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time while ignoring the contradiction.
Even if they watch Fox News, most Americans know that their government bombs people and sponsors repressive regimes all over the world. At the same time, they believe that America just minds its own business in the world, never bothers anyone, and certainly doesn’t do anything to make people hate us and want to attack us.
As a result, they are completely baffled by acts of terrorism. They think that terrorists are irrationally hostile toward the United States and the Western way of life, and that nothing short of an impenetrable security system can stop them from attacking us.
And because there’s no such thing as an impenetrable security system, the result is a never-ending parade of more oppressive and intrusive security procedures. And more billions of taxpayer dollars wasted.
The solution to terrorism is not to shovel more and more tax money into boondoggles such as the Transportation Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, nor to let the government wiretap everyone, nor to lock Americans into their houses and let them out only under police supervision.
The solution is to stop bombing wedding parties and to tell local dictators that they’re on their own.
Copyright 2009 by N.S. Palmer.