I hope I am wrong about

So many things…

It gets hard to keep track of them all. If you were to be mugged on your way home from work, would you try to be a little more vigilant or would you demand a police escort everyday? I wanted to start with this item form Bruce Schneier. It goes along with what has been dominating my thoughts for the past two or so weeks. A quick summary — Bruce argues that what terrorist want is to cause terror, and that what we should do is practice a little “anti-terror”. In other words, don’t over react.

So, where does this come in? On the 10th news was released about the arrest in the “British Airline Plot”. A plan to blow up as many as 10 planes headed for the US. As I watched the news unfold and saw scenes of lines at the airports. As I watched people throw away their bottles of water and hair gel and makeup and whatever other liquids they were carrying, all I could think was that, at least to me, it seemed that the terrorist were winning. If we listen to our leaders, they keep telling us that these terrorist hate us for our freedoms, and as I watched, we were losing those freedoms, and doing so willingly.

All of this lead me to the next logical question. What would drive someone, someone that had seemed to lead a normal, middle class life, to want to kill themselves and as many other people as they could in a manner whose only goal is to cause fear? Sure, we hear about the religious schools (I use this term intentionally because I want to include all religious fanatics that use violence against those that disagree with their philosophy) and how they teach children to hate “the west”. And we hear about how economic inequality and a lack of acceptance into adopted societies (read prejudice) cause these men to feel as if they are marginalized. But still, I just can’t seem to make the connection. I can’t seem to see that as justification (can it ever be justified?) for what these people want to do. And then, things start to happen: two men are removed from a plane because they were speaking “what appeared to be Arabic” and acting “funny”. A pregnant middle eastern women is detained because her cosmetics registered a false positive for explosives (the entire terminal was evacuated). 12 men are detained in Amsterdam for using their cell phones on a flight to India. I didn’t know about the other incidents mentioned in the essay so I’m leaving those out. In addition we keep hearing about people detained at Guantanamo that have been cleared of suspicion but are still being held (link). But, where does all of this lead. Let me take a tangent for a moment.

Have you ever heard of the self fulfilling prophecy? It is a theory in psychology that says (basically) if you believe something (usually a negative) enough, you can make it happen. An example: I believe that I am going to fail a test. It would be a waste of time for me to study for a test that I am going to fail, so I don’t. Since I did not study for the test I fail and there you have it, I have proved myself correct in believing that I would fail the test. Now, someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that there is a corresponding theory that has to do with how you treat people. If you treat someone like they are stupid, they will eventually come to believe that they are stupid (especially if everyone treats them that way). And there we have the self-perpetuating cycle. Possible act of terrorism –> suspicion of possible terrorist –> more terrorist –> possible act of terrorism.

Now, if anyone reads this, I hope that they can prove me wrong, just please be civil. I want to be wrong about this. Why? Because if I am right then some of the blame has to be mine and that is something that I cannot abide. I know that we are not responsible for making
every terrorist out there, but the thought that even one could be because we treated someone like a terrorist just one too many times…