The Terrorist Boogyman

Had “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid been just another criminal nutcase he would have merely been charged with the trying to blow up an airliner in flight, attempted murder-suicide, and given a prison sentence proportionate with the crime, probably with the possibility of parole after a few years if he showed he was no longer a threat to society. But Reid was no ordinary criminal. He was a self-avowed Al Qaeda terrorist. He wasn’t just trying to blow up an airliner. He was, as the sentencing judge took pains to explain, attacking America. For that, his due punishment was a life sentence without the possibility of parole plus another 80 years for good measure.

Now there is no doubt that Reid so hated America that he was willing to die for the satisfaction of killing a plane load of Americans. But to say that one not-too-bright fanatic intent on committing a single act of violence, which he failed to carry off, was by his lonesome capable of attacking the most powerful nation on Earth, is an exaggeration beyond all logic and common sense. The United States of American, an industrial and economic giant of 300 million people with the mightiest military force and most sophisticated national security agencies in history, cannot possibly be that attackable, not by any known foreign army in history, and certainly not a by a lone terrorist or a small group of terrorists. The nineteen 9/11 suicide terrorists may have succeed in bringing down the Twin Towers in New York City, damaging the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, murdering some 3,000 people and alarming the nation, but they couldn’t have boasted that they had literally attacked and wreaked any actual damage on the entire United States of America. The high-rollers of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch did do considerable damage, not only to America but to much of the World, yet none have served a day in prison for it.

This is not to suggest that the wannabe terrorists in our midst should be taken lightly, but they shouldn’t be demonized to mythical proportions, either. To do so only aggrandizes their fanatical self-esteem and prestige among their group. Long prison sentences for them are a badge of honor. Regarding them as the losers that they really are would neutralize them.

Or is their demonization a ruse? Could it be that our leaders are deliberately creating super boogymen to scare us into supporting greater funding for national security, or to take our minds off our economic woes. If we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to invade Iraq, would it be then unreasonable to suspect to that we are also being duped into fearing a handful of misguided fools?

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