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Times Square and the resilient response to terrorism

All the buzz in New York today is about the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, who is accused of attempting to set off a car bomb in Times Square.

Before Shahzad's arrest was announced, James Fallows wrote an interesting piece in The Atlantic on the Times Square bomb threat. Fallows says that “we have seen a New York-style rather than a Washington-style response to the threat,” which is “just what America’s should be.” He explains:

The point of terrorism is not to "destroy." It is to terrify. And for eight and a half years now, the dominant federal government response to terrorist threats and attacks has been to magnify their harm by increasing a mood of fear and intimidation. That is the real case against the ludicrous "orange threat level" announcements we hear every three minutes at the airport. It's not just that they're pointless, uninformative, and insulting to our collective intelligence; it's that their larger effect is to make people feel frightened rather than brave.

Fallows says the New York alternative is “nothing more than: being alert, but living your life and not skulking around being terrified.”

I completely agree. In fact, I made a similar argument in spiked a few weeks ago. You can read “'Jihad Jane’ and the Politics of Fear” here.

As for a “New York-style” response, I just wish the New York politicians and the Obama administration had shown such a resilient response and backbone when it came to holding the KSM trial in NYC.

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