Thursday, July 21, 2005


Europe’s Fear: Terrorists or the Common Man?

With the second set of bombings in London, I hope that more European politicians will begin taking the hard steps needed to address the threat of radical Islamic terrorists. Blair, at least, has supported the war in Iraq and I doubt that the British will follow the Spanish example and vote in appeasers. Still, even Britain seems to be on the wrong track. If you think I’m overly pessimistic, ask yourself this question:

Which is more likely to happen in the next year?
A) British law is changed so that it becomes legal for average citizens to use violence to stop a suicide bomber.
B) British law is changed so that it becomes illegal for average citizens to criticize a suicide bomber’s belief system.

I would hope it would be the former, but I fear it will be the latter.

Police cannot be everywhere, and often it is the average men and women “on the spot” that have the best chance of stopping a violent crime or terrorist attack. United Flight 93 never made it to its intended target on Sept. 11th because of the brave actions of "ordinary" citizens. Armed and vigilant citizens have been an important part of Israel’s defense strategy against terrorism. And now the Iraqi’s are learning that the common man sometimes has to take action to stop dangerous men when there aren’t any gov’t officials around to do the job.

Clearly, experience has shown that alert and brave actions by the citizenry can be an important part of a society’s defense against terrorism, as well as ordinary crime. But in Europe generally, and Britain specifically, such actions would be branded “illegal vigilantism”. I would expect that anyone in London engaging in one of the heroic acts described above would be more likely to receive a jail sentence (or perhaps a gaol sentence) than a “thank you” note from the Queen. Until this situation changes, we will know that the European politicians are less afraid of occasional bombings of the mass transit riding commoners than they are of letting their subjects get a taste of any empowerment that might give them dangerous ideas about not having to be so obedient to their “betters.”

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