Within hours of the attack in New York in which an Islamic terrorist used a truck to mow down and kill eight people on a bicycle path, public officials were out in front of the cameras telling the public to go on with their lives because: “we can’t let the terrorists win.”
In fact, I would argue the terrorists have already won. During the past couple of decades, they have achieved what they set out to achieve. They have dramatically altered the way we live our lives, the way we travel, the way we perceive the world.
They have made terrorism a miserable fact of our lives.
For those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, these changes are especially striking and disheartening.
I remember when you could walk onto airplanes without even passing through a metal detector, let alone long lines for multiple security checks during which you must remove your shoes and submit to invasive electronic body searches.
I remember when you could go to a baseball or football game with a cooler and a backpack.
I remember when schools didn’t have metal detectors or armed guards standing guard or roaming the halls.
I remember when the only violence you occasionally encountered in a bar was between a couple of drunks throwing wild punches at one another. Not once did an Islamic terrorist walk into a crowded nightclub, shout “Allahu Akbar,” and start mowing down patrons with a semi-automatic weapon.
“We can’t let the terrorists win,” declare our public officials and media pundits.
But the awful reality is, terrorist cells are already plotting more attacks all across the globe. No country or city will ever be truly safe from terrorism again but that, sadly, is the era we live in now.
In George Orwell’s seminal
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