Thursday, September 14, 2006

Not Letting the Terrorists Win

In his speech on September 11, President Bush said that if we pull out of Iraq, as some suggest, we will be handing a victory to Osama Bin Laden. Vice President Cheney said that even suggesting that we pull out of Iraq will "validate the strategy of the terrorists." And earlier this week House Majority Leader John Boehner said that Democrats "are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."

It seems like a lot of people in America today want to help the terrorists win for some reason. I think letting the terrorists win is the last thing we should want to do. Perhaps the best way to make sure the terrorists don't win is to figure out what they want and do the exact opposite no matter how difficult, painful or even self-destructive that might be. Lately, I've been wondering if there is anything I'm doing that might help the terrorists win and I've been trying to live my life by doing the opposite of what the terrorists would want me to do. I have to admit it has been very difficult, especially since I'm not always sure what it is that the terrorists do want.

This year on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I was feeling a bit down. As if the memories of that day weren't depressing enough, it was upsetting to see that so many liberals apparently want the terrorists to win. But then I said to myself, "Snap out of it!" The terrorists want you to be depressed. Although I had been looking forward to watching the real-time replay of CNN's coverage so that I could relive that day all over again, I thought that would just make me feel worse. Then I remembered the President's stirring words a month after September 11: "People are going about their daily lives, working and shopping and playing, worshipping at churches and synagogues and mosques, going to movies and to baseball games. Life in America is going forward, and as the fourth grader who wrote me knew, that is the ultimate repudiation of terrorism." So I decided I would commemorate 9/11 by going shopping and taking in a movie. I would repudiate terrorism by pretending it was just like any other day. I would remember September 11 by not paying any attention to it at all.

But as I headed to the mall in my SUV, I thought about what some people had said about how our dependence on foreign oil is helping the terrorists. Was I helping the terrorists by driving an SUV with its low gas mileage? I wondered if I should turn around and take the bus instead. But then I thought, What would Osama Bin Laden think of my SUV? He would probably think it was an emblem of American wealth and wastefulness. He might even be a little jealous. By driving an SUV I was saying to the terrorists that they were not going to make me give up my wasteful luxuries even if they did make us dependent on places like Saudi Arabia whose oil money funds the terrorists. That would show them.

As I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised by how many cars were there. Apparently, a lot of people had come to the same conclusion as I did, that the best way to fight terrorism was to go shopping. Some people are supporting the idea of making September 11 a national holiday. I think giving people the day off so that they could shop at September 11 sales might be the perfect way to send a message to the terrorists that they can't change our way of life.

When I got out of the car, I saw what appeared to be a group of Middle Eastern men (though they might have been Hispanic) heading into the Mall. Suddenly, I was gripped by fear. A place like this where a lot of people congregate would be the perfect place for a terrorist attack. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to go shopping after all. Maybe I would be a lot safer if I just stayed home.

Then it dawned on me that this was exactly how the terrorists wanted me to feel. Terrorists want us to be terrified and if we give into these feelings then the terrorists win. And so I calmed down. But then I wondered, isn't complacency also what the terrorists want? Didn't we become complacent after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, which allowed the terrorists to launch the attacks of 2001? Hasn't President Bush done everything in his power to instill as much fear as possible in every American so that we don't become complacent again? Maybe fear isn't such a bad thing after all. When we are afraid our body manufactures adrenaline, which increases our speed, strength and agility. Reportedly, people have been able to lift cars with adrenaline coursing through their veins. Of course, if this fear becomes terror, then the terrorists have won, but a persistent, gnawing fear humming just below the surface of our psyches can be a powerful defense against those who wish to do us harm. So I resolved to be just afraid enough--not too afraid, but not too unafraid either.

Once I got inside the Mall, I felt a little more at ease--but not too at ease. I went to the food court and bought a hot dog and some freedom fries. What could be more American than that? It wasn't a kosher hot dog, either, and with every bite I imagined how sickened the terrorists would be to see me eating this. Unfortunately, some ketchup squeezed out of one end and got all over my shirt. But that's OK, I thought, I'll just go buy a new one. I headed over to Brooks Brothers and picked out a nice new white shirt. But after I bought it, when I was putting it on, I noticed that the label said, "Made in Indonesia." Isn't Indonesia a Muslim country? By buying this shirt did I contribute a few cents to the pocket of a budding Indonesian terrorist? Sure, he wasn't getting that much money from this shirt but every bit counts. By buying this shirt I might have inadvertently funded terrorism. I vowed to be much more careful with my purchases in the future.

I decided to check the movie theater to see what movies were playing and resolved to find a movie the terrorists would not want me to see. But I wasn't really sure what movies the terrorists would disapprove of. Unfortunately, there is no terrorist rating system and it's not something Roger Ebert usually mentions in his reviews. It seems to me it would be a lot easier if there was a list of Muslim-banned movies like the one the Catholic Church used to have. Then I could deliberately go see a movie that was on this list.

But then I wondered if I was going about this all wrong. I remembered reading about a book that is coming out next year by Dinesh D'Souza, called The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility For 9/11. In this book he says that pop culture and liberals were to blame for the 9/11 attacks by making the Muslims angry at us. D'Souza believes that whatever we do we mustn't make the terrorists angry. "The cultural wars at home and the global war on terror are usually viewed as separate problems," the blurb for the book on Amazon says. "In this groundbreaking book, D'Souza shows that they are one and the same. It is only by curtailing the left's attacks on religion, family, and traditional values that we can persuade moderate Muslims and others around the world to cooperate with us and begin to shun the extremists in their own countries." President Bush said that the terrorists "hate our freedoms," which is why we have to give some of them up, but D'Souza believes that what is enraging Muslims and causing them to become terrorists is not our freedom but "our abuse of that freedom--sexual liberty of women to the support of gay marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce, to the aggressive exportation of our vulgar, licentious popular culture."

So, in fact, according to D'Souza, the way to beat the terrorists is to suppress the things in our culture that they don't approve of, in other words, to be more like they are, except for the terrorism part. Opposing gay marriage, outlawing birth control and abortion and censoring our pop culture may be the keys to winning the War on Terror. So, seeing a movie the terrorists wouldn't approve of actually increases the risk of making the terrorists more angry and gives them an excuse to attack again. So maybe I should see a movie they would approve of. Then again, if I made sure I saw a movie they approved of wouldn't I be letting the terrorists determine what I should and should not do? Wasn't I, in a sense, letting the terrorists win?

That's when I had a terrible thought: Was worrying about letting the terrorists win, itself letting the terrorists win? Maybe I should try not to think about what would let the terrorists win. But, of course, the more you try not to think of something, the more you do think of something. I stood there paralyzed in my new Brooks Brothers shirt wondering what I should do, if there was anything I could do that would not let the terrorists win. No matter what I did, it seemed the terrorists would win. Maybe I should just stand here and do nothing at all, I thought. Or was that exactly what the terrorists wanted me to do?

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miriam said...

Wow! What a great post!

liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Swify:

I wish Fox had "terrorism experts," who were terrorists, or former terrorist, so they could answer these questions you articulate that are very much on people's minds.

Maybe there is something we could wear, or not wear, that would really break the ice? For lifestyle and fashion we could turn to "Fundi Eyes on Some Infidel Guys"?

Stuff like that.

outofcontext said...

You're overthinking this thing. I find it's best to ask myself, "What has Cheney said lately?" and let that be my guide. You waste a lot of time looking at both sides of questions.
Besides as long as we're fighting them over there, we can go about our business at home anyway (within moral and sound economic reason) we please. That's the whole point of the war.

nuke gingrich said...

I think giving people the day off so that they could shop at September 11 sales might be the perfect way to send a message to the terrorists that they can't change our way of life.
Great idea. Maybe we could encourage the shopping by having a ......wait for it......sales tax cut every September 11.

Funny stuff, Jon. Great Post. I liked it so much, I stole your linking policy and added it to my site.

R said...

Oh Jon Swift, I think I'm in love with you.

NotSaussure said...

Dear Mr Swift,

While I'm not sure I'd describe myself as a conservative, since I tend to favour moderate progress within the bounds of the law, I obviously share your concern not to anything that might in any way help the terrorists.

I was very concerned, therefore, to learn that a leading American academic, one David Horowitz, had his ideas taken up by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Does this mean President Ahmadinejad is beginning to see reason, or is Mr Horowitz -- a former Communist, I understand -- in fact giving aid and comfort to the terrorists? Should, in your view, students organise campaigns to demand that the liberal teachers be sacked or is that giving in to terrorism?

It's certainly all very confusing

Sporty said...

It's clear the terrorists don't want anybody commenting on your post, so I'm commenting on your post.

Well done, good chap!

(The terrorists hate the British, so British phrases piss them off a lot, obviously!)

MediaBloodhound said...

Before reading your article, fear merely coated my every vision like anti-ballistic cataracts or eyelid-sized flak jackets. Now, thanks to you, Mr. Swift, I am permanently blinded by a fear impenetrable to terrorist forces, liberal appeasement and reality tarted up in sheep's clothing. God bless you, sir!

You are my human scud missile.

Miss Cellania said...

You've come up with a brilliant idea. What we really need is a terrorist movie rating system! I'll get right on that.

P.M. Prescott said...

I think you hit on a great idea. Let's celebrate Sept. 11 day by shopping, but refusing to buy gasoline that day, and we could add Dec. 7 where we boycott anything made in or by Japan.

beervolcano said...

Damn, now I'm confused. Should I listen to Whitney Houston or not?

MistahCharley said...

I support the initiative for a National 9/11 Memorial Shopping Holiday, and think sales tax reduction for that day is an excellent idea.

shaker said...

Unfortunately, there is no terrorist rating system and it's not something Roger Ebert usually mentions in his reviews.

According to the great conservative David Horowitz's "Discover the network", Roger Ebert himself is a terrorist. So you should avoid any movie that Ebert likes.

John Keats said...

Dear Mr Swift,

I live in London, where we enjoy a long tradition of going about our normal business in order to demonstrate to terrorists that we cannot be terrorised. It is an English custom to ignore people. This (lack of) response is likewise the procedure best adopted towards terrorists. Terrorists are attention-seekers. Writing about them in your blog only publicises their activities, thus perpetuating the cycle of terror.

The way to demonstrate to terrorists that they cannot terrorise you, is to write about themes antithetical to terror. I'm sure you must practice some wholesome American hobbies unrelated to terror, that could form the inspiration for a terror-free online diary.

Alternatively, but likewise operating on the principle that terrorists are motivated by attention, could the American people contrive to identify some less violent outlet for the terrorists inclination towards fame/ notoriety? I have heard of a television programme in your country where candidates compete to become an "American Idol". Perhaps the terrorists could be persuaded to participate in a similiar enterprise, which would satiate the attention-seeking aspect of the casebook terrorist personality (they seem to like videotaping themselves).

Or why not just get Oprah to sort it out? Television teaches that when individuals perpetrate anti-social behaviour, it can usually be attributed to an unhappy childhood. I myself blame my parents for everything that is wrong with my life. If Oprah could talk them through whatever childhood traumas set them on the path to terrorism, and perhaps read an uplifting poem by Maya Angelou, I'm confident the War on Terror could be resolved, which would free up more of your President's time for attending to less pressing matters.

Yours most respectfully,

John Keats

Far Away said...

"No matter what I did, it seemed the terrorists would win. Maybe I should just stand here and do nothing at all, I thought. Or was that exactly what the terrorists wanted me to do?"

No, that is what President Bush wants you to do.

Bulworth said...

"...but D'Souza believes that what is enraging Muslims and causing them to become terrorists is not our freedom but "our abuse of that freedom--sexual liberty of women to the support of gay marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce, to the aggressive exportation of our vulgar, licentious popular culture."

As a thoughtful, true conservative, I'm a little troubled by this book's blurb. It sounds as if Dish Dezzouso is concerned only about the sexual liberty of women. What about the sexual liberty of men? Should men be sexually liberated?

And I don't know about that statement on birth control. Does that include condoms?

Suldog said...


I attempted to contact you via e-mail, but got a bounceback. Your entry has been posted at A Carnival Of Hijacked Holidays.

Not too many entries overall, but it is early in the life of the carnival, so maybe things will pick up in future. In the meantime, thank you very much for your wonderful submission!

Miss Cellania said...

I can tell you put a LOT of work into this post.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, remember October 23, 2001 when G.W. Bush vowed not to "let the terrorists win by changing our way of life"? Well, he needs to take a break from Airforce One and take a trip on an American airliner. The ragheads certainly have a lot to be proud of there. That's where they've scored their greatest victory.

Remember when you could arrive 15 minutes before your flight and still make it to the plane on time? Try showing up TWO HOURS early nowadays. Sometimes you'll make it but not every time. It's a nightmare. Flying has become almost as slow as driving. And definitely more of a hassle.

But of course, we Americans can't use common sense regarding airport security. We have to do everything backasswards and make it tougher on everybody; terrorists and law-abiding citizens alike. NOTHING HAD TO CHANGE. After 9-11 all Americans learned a great lesson...Islamic terrorists have no regard for human life, including their own.

Before 9-11 I carried a folding knife in my pocket wherever I went. Every time I boarded a plane I had my knife in my pocket and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. There were certainly people on those ill-fated 9-11 airliners who also carried knives.

So, why didn't they use them? Well, obviously they didn't realize these guys had no intention of allowing the plane to land safely. If they had known what was really going to happen, the terrorists would have been cut to pieces right away and the World Trade Center would be standing proudly this very day.

After that day, when we all learned the true nature of these skyjackers, suddenly we're no longer allowed to carry knives onto a plane. I say "three cheers for racial profiling". Search every foreigner attempting to board an American airliner (particularly the darker foreigners) and don't allow them to carry any dangerous items. At the same time, allow American citizens to carry whatever they want (with the obvious exception of firearms) onto the plane. The result would be no more worries about another hijacking disaster. Simple as that.

Maybe too simple for our over-reactionary society that somehow believes disarming the public is going to make our country safer. I know what some of you are saying. "there are dangerous Americans too!" Well, duh! Those idiots undoubtedly exist, but they happen to still be the minority. If one of them goes Koo-Koo, he can be subdued by the rational majority the same way as the terrorists could be subdued. If it ever gets to the point that the psychotic Americans outnumber the sane ones, well, then we're so screwed that we probably need to be killed off anyway.

I hope Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin can't see what a ship of fools we've become. It would break their freedom-lovin' hearts!

ParadoX said...

Are you all idiots?
Seriously, this small community of people have become so overwhelmed with fear that you can't even take a bath without asking for permission.
"Don't pay for gas on Sept 11th?" And what will that accomplish, because it sure won't help supress terrorism, it will only further show how utterly ignorant of a society we are. "Tax cuts on Sept 11th"? Yeah, that'll show them! Hah, don't make me laugh, I've done well over enough reading this garbage. I hope you all have realized that taxes are used for improving your own state, why in the world would anyone want to cut that which benefits our country? Oh that's right, because you (the commenters in agreeance with the cuts) are all a bunch of selfish, greedy fools who believes that the more we own, the more powerful we (the individuals) are.
Oh right, I also heard someone mention that it was a brilliant idea to attack and supress the Muslim groups. What's it called when people attack a group of people simply because of their skin color, or religion? Oh well, maybe a history book about 1960's America or about the Crusaders will jog my memory. I mean, "Indonesian Muslims made this shirt!" No, Americans who went to Indonesia to save on production by enslaving locals and forcing them to produce a mass amount of clothings made your shirt, but obviously that wouldn't make you want to buy the shirt if that's what it said on the tag.
Sarcasm is good in small doses, but after reading this article, and comments, I get the feeling that none of you were joking when you freely expressed your opinion's.
Lastly, I must congradulate the shadows behind Mr. Bush who are now allowed to freely run our country as they see fit. Bravo, you played a good game, all you needed was a nonsecular word to instill fear into the hearts of many, so that you could pass laws that made no sense, like the Patriot Act, simply by saying, "If we don't cut off you're little freedom that you have, then the "terrorist" win."

Way to go Jon Swift. said...

Hey, there's a great deal of helpful information above!

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