It’s interesting to see the patterns of thought across Journal-land when you compare the writing of different people. One of the patterns I notice constantly is the one about the terror alert system.
Apparently, here is the prevailing thought process going on:
If the government issues a terror threat and no terror attack happens, the government was either operating on faulty intelligence information, or the government was trying to scare people for its own political gain.
If the government goes for any period of time without raising the terror level or mentioning it, it is ignoring the threat of terror.
From what I’ve read, most people aren’t even willing to consider the possibility that when a terror alert is raised, increased security may thwart attacks before they can happen, or that the fact that we haven’t had another 9/11 could be at least in part because the government might be paying more attention to the threat and may actually be getting results. (Come on, the possibility — no matter how slim — that the government might be doing something right isn’t a fun topic of conversation.)
I’m sure most of you have seen by now terror alert icons available for webpages that reduce the color-coded alerts to Sesame Street characters or paint John Ashcroft’s face in various shades to reflect the current condition.
Sure, let’s joke about it! Let’s let somebody else worry about the threat of terrorism. That’s what this country’s culture is all about: if it’s not going to slow our commute from work to home, or if it’s not going to hold us up in line at the drive-thru, it’s not worth my time.
Let’s call every report of a new terror threat a politically-motivated stunt to get the attention of voters. Let’s pretend that there aren’t extremists half a world away who hate this country and its people enough that they are willing to sacrifice themselves to take as many of us with them as possible.
(But from time to time, let’s pause from joking and griping about the new reports just long enough to complain that this country isn’t taking the threat of terror seriously enough. That way, we can feel like we’ve done our part.)
Would you rather not hear about threats when information is received? Would youprefer that the government keep that information to itself? Would you like to have the general population — people who still need to be reminded about basic common sense things like locking their doors and not giving out personal information to strangers — no longer hear those reminders to be on their guard?
And if you never heard any mention of the threat of terror, would you be able to maintain confidence that the government was doing everything it could to prevent another attack?