Saturday, September 11, 2010

People have died before I have shot them

Now and then someone says that this or that act emboldens terrorists or will encourages attacks. Things like burning Qur'ans.

Inevitably someone else responds that we were attacked before we did that. There is of course the obvious flaw: there are many ways to be offensive which do not involve burning Qur'ams or secretly torturing Muslims who have never had a trial or lawyer. Such as assassinating democratically elected leaders and propping up dictators (see: Iran), supporting a state popping up in the middle of nowhere and forcing out the original inhabitants (see: Israel), or occupying religiously sacred land (see: the Arabian Peninsula), the last one of which I say is just too bad; just because I have a book that says you can't stand somewhere doesn't mean I get to kill you.

In other words we've never been attacked in an innocent state.

But the bigger flaw in this logic is that it fails to recognize that bad things can get worse. As my title says, people have died even though I haven't shot them. Does this mean I should go ahead and shoot people since there's no clear link between shooting people and death? Of course not! If A causes B but B happens anyway, that doesn't mean that A is unrelated to B and cannot make B happen even more. In this case B is American civilians being murdered in retaliation for perceived offenses.

This doesn't mean we should bow to the terrorists. Hardly. Terrorists should all be imprisoned or killed. But we should consider what effect our actions have on the potential next generation of terrorists. These aren't bad people, they're blank slates, so it would be smart to not scribble anything bad on them. But again, we shouldn't go out of our way to avoid offending everyone, because let's face it, someone somewhere will get offended by something. However we shouldn't go out of our way to be offensive. That's just stupid.

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