How to Fight Terrorists

English TV stations have a sensible policy whenever there’s a pitch invasion or a streaker or someone running onto the field. Rather than show off the person and glorify their actions, they deliberately show scenes elsewhere, of fans watching the game or of players looking disgusted at the person taking over the field.

Bruce Schneier has a smart article on how to respond to terrorism, plots, and attacks. The point he makes, correctly, is that the object of a terrorist attack is symbolic and not really important. One plane going down will not destroy Western Civilization. The fear, panic, grandstanding, increased security, and possible recession because of the attack, or planned attack, are much more devastating. The more everyone in the media, in politics, and in security discusses the attacks, the more scared and hyped-up we feel, which is exactly what the other side wants.

I was in Oxford when the July 7 bombings hit. The nation mourned for its fallen, yes, but people mainly carried about their business. No one stood around watching the TV for more news about the attacks. Afterwards, the slogan “We Are Not Afraid” was a perfect reaction. People kept riding the Tube like normal. This is the way you defeat terrorists – don’t glorify them, ignore them.

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