The Bush campaign has been making a lot of the use of one word in a New York Times Magazine article on Oct. 10th: “nuisance” in relation to the way we live with terrorism.
Here’s the passage:
When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ”We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” Kerry said. ”As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”
Well, that’s just common sense, the kind of approach that has predominated in Israel, where life goes on despite the potential for terror attacks. Instead of creating an environment of elevated fear, which is precisely what the terrorists like to see since it doesn’t even require they conduct an attack in order to disrupt life in the United States, as the Bush administration has helped them to do, Kerry wants to help people overcome fear and get back to living. It’s a key to getting the economy going—again, the experience of Israel, a thriving economy in the midst of a poor region and a terrorist threat, is an excellent example.
In fact, experience here in the Pacific Northwest, where the Washington State Ferry System has reportedly become the target of terrorist plans, shows how Kerry’s approach can take hold and be effective if the government doesn’t magnify the threat. Fortunately, we in the Northwest are both calm and caffeinated enough that we notice suspicious behavior and report it. That’s just common sense, too.
Nineteen separate instances of “suspicious activity” thought to be related to terrorist activity have been reported by law enforcement, ferry workers and passengers since Sept. 11, 2001. We may be paranoid, but at least one of the people involved is the focus of an FBI terrorism investigation, but the point is that people going about their business and leisure make as good or better a defense against terrorism than the fear-mongering approach advocated by the Bush administration, which prefers a military approach and a society on the brink of martial law.
In fact, terrorism seems to be part of a redefined American mindset, according to the Bushies. As Dave Pell at electablog reports, President Bush today said that “our goal is not to reduce terror” and Vice President Cheney told an audience that “reducing terrorism” is “all part of a pre-9-11 mindset.”
We need to preserve American freedom, which requires we live free, reducing by force of will and the force of intelligent citizens the culture of fear that has been nursed by President Bush and his people. Senator Kerry sees that clearly, President Bush resists a decline in fear because it will allow people to challenge his absolutist simplifications.
So, this week during the last debate, when President Bush uses 9/11 as an excuse for the poor returns for all Americans from his massive tax cuts for the richest one percent, remember that fear is only a tool for diminishing our expectations. If we were to decide to live free from fear—intelligently—many of our domestic problems would evaporate rapidly. Vote Kerry.