01 March 2010

stack proposals

I realize this was about two weeks ago now. But I'm still wrapping my head around the way this was covered and the contortions and manipulations needed to keep it out and away from any standard and reasonable definition of terrorism. Suddenly, because it's an American, non-Muslim, citizen attacking a bureaucracy that people hate anyway, it's ennobled to the status of "disgruntled/disaffected person" rather than some sort of religious theocratic radical who hates us for our freedom, so it obviously cannot be an action of terrorism and instead could have been safely handled by our courts without incident (much as McVeigh was).

I think this would be a lot easier if many people who were insistent that it was an act of terrorism would not have sprang immediately to the conclusion that it was a "right-wing" nutcase. Anti-authoritarian attitudes which develop into violent actions and fester over many years of frustration are not so easily pigeon-holed into the right-left paradigms of the media and elite establishment (against both of which these attitudes are often rebelling). As the random assortment of frustrations that were on center state during the health care townhalls last year should indicate, "the people" hold a wide cross-section of frustrations, many of which fit the standard right-left dialogue, such as protests involve racism or accusations of "socialism" or "fascism". But others, the simple tactic of applying the Charlie Chaplin mustache to our hated "dictator" of the moment, clearly aren't. As evidenced by accusations leveled at Cheney and Bush. I would argue in both cases, Bush and Obama, that the accusations of crony capitalism or corporatism are in fact, pretty accurate anyway. Regardless, it should have been easy enough to react to this event as though it was an intended act of terror without needing to find a political movement that was supposedly feeding the beast. The fact that some political movements members leapt up to support their new found fallen hero should have been sufficient evidence (that some tea party type members saw fit to memorialize this should be indicative of two things: 1) that that movement is not likely to amount to anything and 2) because it's too decentralised in a political environment that requires centralisation to achieve something, even to achieve "decentralisation")

The secondary response of people seems to have been: okay it was terrorism, so what? What do we do about it? To which I would ask, uh, what exactly do you think our tactics and strategies intended to deal with terrorism actually do? Because that answer is not much, at least at the margins and certainly on a cost-benefit analysis. It's even highly probable that some of them, in particular things like preventive detention, violations of civil liberties, and torture, have been counterproductive and spawned more incidents. Suppose we decided to "crack down" on anti-IRS cranks and throw them in jail without recourse for justice or even the need to verify the accuracy of the government's claims that they were in fact anti-IRS cranks capable of violent action and even have some of them tortured to determine their friends and associates. Would you suppose those methods would deter acts of aggression against the IRS and government or encourage them? Likewise, even simpler things like making it harder to deal with the IRS bureaucracy, decreasing the transparency of its operations and complicating the rules under which we are to comply with their authority over our income is unlikely to do much for the better natures of humans frustrated with these authorities. Much as airline security strikes me as almost a complete waste of time and energy, increasing complications rather than increasing security and efficiency of a difficult task of flying people around the country (or administering the tax code and collection).

My reaction to this question of "what do we do about it?" would be why should we do anything different when the guy's name is Abdullah and he crashes deliberately into a building? If you want deliberate and powerful limitations on individual liberties for that guy, then the same thing should apply here. If you don't want those powerful limitations for some randomly pissed off American citizen taking lives and attacking government officials, then why would you need them for anybody else doing so?
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