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[liberationtech] [FoRK] [zs-p2p] Thank you for choosing cyberpunk dystopia.

Rich Kulawiec rsk at
Sun Jan 1 17:58:15 PST 2017

On Sat, Dec 31, 2016 at 12:16:41AM -0800, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> If we all find a way to solve the anti-terrorism problem, or at least
> carve out space for it to be solved, we'd be less at odds for protecting
> privacy etc.  There are some promising ideas I think, but all solutions
> so far involve painful and often unacceptable tradeoffs.

A rather obvious -- but nearly entirely overlooked -- approach is
to refuse to be terrorized.  That is, after all, the point: blowing up
buildings or planes and killing people are merely tactics in pursuit of
that strategic goal.  While the immediate targets of terrorist acts
are those involved in the incidents themselves, they are few in number --
and many of them end up dead.   The real targets are you and me
and everyone else because (a) there are a lot more of us and (b) we're
not dead.  The goal is to make us afraid, and thus to provoke
ill-considered/hasty/self-destructive responses.  (Why do you think
that terrorists take pains to make sure their acts are well-documented?
Terrorism that nobody notices or pays attention to doesn't work well,
even if it does a great deal of destruction and kills a lot of people.)

Terrorism is an attack against our emotions, leveraging the fact that
we have evolved to have strong fight-or-flight responses and those
are wired very deeply into our psyches -- so deeply that we have
difficulty overcoming them with rational thought.

And so far, it's working beautifully: look at the insane response of the US
to the 9/11 attacks.  Their perpetrators could not possibly have hoped for
a better outcome.  No, I don't meant the destruction of the WTC etc. --
that's entirely unimportant.  I mean the collective national response
over the past 15 years, which has been to give these terrorists exactly
what they wanted *and* to pay for it with our blood, treasure, privacy,
and freedom.

The correct response to 9/11 -- which I'll admit that I didn't realize
at the time -- was for everyone to get up the next day and go to work
like nothing happened.  Clean up the mess, bury the dead, and keep right
on going.  Refuse to be intimidated or provoked, refuse to be manipulated,
refuse to be afraid, refuse to play along.

Of course that doesn't defeat an act of terror: but it defeats terrorism
as a strategy.  And that is something that can't be done any other way.
Only we can do it.  By individually and collectively refusing.

Let me give you a case study: Erika Brannock.  Erika was standing
near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, waiting for her
mom to run by, when the bombs went off.  She (and her sister) were very
badly injured.  Erika lost a leg, and endured a long, slow recovery in
hospitals and physical therapy and everything else that you might expect.

Her mom went back to run the Boston Marathon in 2014 -- one year
after the bombing.  And Erika went back to watch.


That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's done.


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