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Yesterday, in the process of scanning through the various news sources I peruse, I came across two articles that, together, made me sit back and think.  The first was an article from the AP about security at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.  It seems some journalists did an experiment at the airport now famous for being the point of origin for the underwear bomber.  The second was an opinion column on the Charlotte Observer website regarding the installation of the new body scanners at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

After reading these two articles I had to come to one conclusion.  The terrorists have won.

All of our talk about how we were not going to allow the terrorists to change the way we live our lives was just that: talk.  Slowly,we have been willing to give up more and more of our liberties in the ongoing chase for security.  This is a battle that cannot be won.  I think Benjamin Franklin said it best.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

The problem is this is a Catch-22 situation.  If we do not take measures that impinge on personal liberty, then we will continue to see people die in attacks that are not prevented.  If we increase security to a point where the attacks are prevented, then we lose the very thing that makes this nation great and, in so doing, forfeit the conflict to the terrorists.

I know that many feel that the answer to the problem is to seek diplomatic solutions.  However, I respectfully disagree.  No matter what your political leanings it does not matter whether we engage in diplomatic negotiations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Muammar al-Gaddafi, or any other head of a Muslim state that has expressed hostility toward us in the past.  While these individuals may contribute to the issue by offering safe haven or material support, they are not the problem.  The problem is the vast networks of individuals who have come under the influence of a radicalized version of Islam. 

This is not an attack on the religion of Islam.  I have a great respect for the Muslim faith and its practitioners.  I have read the Koran and find that those who call it the “religion of peace” are quite accurate.  The Muslim community at large are a devout and peaceful people.  But, any religion can be radicalized to violence.

Take for example, the Crusades waged by supposed men of faith in the name of God.  These men murdered, raped, and pillaged their way across the Middle East in a way that was entirely outside the dictates of their religion.  But, it was all done in the name of God.   Christians would do well to remember this dark stain on their past before beginning to throw stones.

However terrible the Crusades were, at least they can be made sense of in a psychological sense.  The base human drives were clearly present.  Power.  Greed.  Prejudice.  These men were whipped into a fervor by their leaders and set loose upon their enemy.  But it was done with a reason, a goal: to strip the power of controlling “The Holy Land” and all its riches from the Saracens and grant it to the Europeans.

The terrorists today have no such obvious goal.  The violence they engage in is targeted for no reason beyond causing carnage and terror.  They are not trying to wrest power away from anyone.  They do not seek riches held by someone else for themselves.  The seek to kill.  They seek to cause us to feel constant fear. 

There is no negotiation with someone who has nothing tangible they seek.  There is nothing you can give them in return for a reduction or ceasing of the violence.  They wish us dead.  They wish us frightened by the spectre of impending violence.  This, to my mind, is psychosis.  And you can’t reason with a lunatic.

Thus we fight to protect ourselves by giving up our liberties.  But, how long do we struggle and how much freedom will we lose before we realize they have already won?

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