The McCarthyism of September 11th

This history of war has been traditionally a bi-partisan effort, where there are at least two distinct sides fighting against each other. Unfortunately, the history of the war against terrorism is slightly less well defined.

The litany of finger pointing at various terror cells and terrorist organizations is almost as pervasive as the number of standing ovations in the President’s State of the Union. It seems like this is an almost insurmountable task, in fact it is so daunting that one might wonder where it begins and where it ends.

In the late 1600’s, medical science was unable to determine the cause for an apparent illness in Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams. Since humans are prone to arrive at definitive conclusion, it was determined that these women were under a satanic spell. As a result, Abigail ultimately confessed to practicing witchcraft and was summarily put to death.

It then became commonplace to accuse certain women of witchcraft. The selection pattern is lost in the pantheons of historical social bias, but clearly these women were picked because they were perceived as a threat by certain members of a male-dominated society.

Then we had the McCarthyism of the Cold War, when it was possible to accuse virtually anyone of being Communist. Once you were branded Communist, it was a bad thing and in most cases meant the end of your personal and professional life.

How do we know when picking terrorists has reached the scale of McCarthyism? How do we know we are not re-inventing the Witch Trials?

There are clearly unpleasant factions that exist in pockets all over the world and that are planning to wreck terror on our lives. The events of September 11, 2001 are clear evidence that this loosely-knit organization does in fact exist. However, we need to temper our disdain for terrorism and avoid branding every potential threat with the terrorist moniker. If we retool our military and strategic alliances for the sole purpose of hunting terrorists, then we also risk possibly branding any discord as a terrorist threat.

Other countries should be free to disagree. In fact, they should be free to fight antagonists in their own land. We can’t expect to understand the complex histories of every culture and civilization, as such they also would not expect us to come in and tell them how to resolve their differences. Obviously, if the organization represents a clear and imminent threat to the sovereignty of America then we should plan to prevent them from ever taking such action. Otherwise we should let these countries discover themselves.

We can certainly help with our expertise, provide funds for countries to restructure and present guidance with our incredible leadership capabilities. However, we should not pick fights with every country that we think might have bad guys in it. By the same token, other countries may not approve of the mass-murderers that are housed in American prisons. In fact, what about all the criminals that US police haven’t captured yet?

Other countries could certainly miscontrue the Humbert Humbert’s of the world that happen to reside in the United States to be an immanent threat to their safety. Let’s not give them another excuse to attack us. Does this mean they should declare war on America?