Monday, November 23, 2015

letting the terrorists win

After September 11, 2001, I let the terrorists win. I was suspicious of Muslims, and angry at the whole world. I was not yet an atheist, but that was one of he events that led to my atheism.

Since the Paris attacks, though, I've thought more about what my reaction must be.

First, I'm hearing from Muslims that the attacks are not Islam (and I didn't have to go search out articles that say so). I don't remember hearing that fourteen years ago.

Second, I understand that what the terrorists want is to precipitate a war between Islam and the west. So hating Muslims plays right into the hands of terrorists.

Third, I know that too many people died in the attacks. But how many people died of complications of smoking in Paris, that day? (This IS France, after all.) How many of auto accidents? How many the next day? And the day after? And on every day since? The number of people dying of terrorism is minuscule. We pay attention to it because it's news. But it's news because it's rare.

Fourth, as far as I can, I'm going to go on with my life ignoring terrorists. There are people whose job it is to deal with them. I'm going to let them do that. If I pay any more attention than that, the terrorists win.

That said, though, I want to say something about why I don't want to see the death penalty for terrorism. There are two reasons for this. The first is that terrorists are nihilists, and they see death as a glorious end. Their cohorts will see them as martyrs. We should not give them that glory.

The second is that I do not believe that death is the ultimate penalty. It is too quick. I'm sure it would be much more painful to have to endure a long, isolated imprisonment, with monotony as your only companion. To die, decades later, forgotten by the world, and have your body and your effects thrown in the trash.

I'm not against the death penalty because it's cruel. I'm against it because it's not cruel enough.

Until that day, I'm going to live my life, being careful of the things that are actually likely to kill me, like traffic and overeating.

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