Terrorism persists because terrorism works. Terrorism works because we let it.
“We are richer, and mightier, and far more deadly than any of our terrorist foes could dream of being. And yet we happily play into their hands. We declare a “War on Terror” of our own making, an absurd construct with no possible victory. We overreact so harshly to every injury that our reputation as bullies and savages is confirmed. We allow ourselves to be cowed by fear. We allow ourselves to be rendered senseless by rage. The terrorist lays the bait, and we give him the terror he seeks. The terrorist may be the criminal, but we are the hapless suckers who make his act worthwhile.
Terrorism works. But it does not have to. Terrorism reduces us to the sort of society that we claim to despise. But it does not have to. The ideals we espouse when times are calm—justice, understanding, rationality, proportionality, a love of peace—are the ones that we must cling to most tightly when things get scary. If we discard them, we have lost the game from the start.
We cannot control the terrorist. We can only control our response. Let that response be just, and wise, and proportional. Let that response embody the best of who we are, and not the worst. Terror is momentary. A loss of our ideals can last forever.”