A couple of weeks ago I read the editorial regarding the bombings in Boston and I was in sync with the expressions of sympathy and frustration as well as the exhortations to not let this cowardly attack keep us from leading our lives in as normal a fashion as possible.
I was bothered by the last section of the piece. Mrs. Grimes expressed anger that, “Too often we are hearing that plans are being carried out and people are dying instead of hearing that a plan was stopped before the act was carried out.”
Aside from the fact that we cannot know the number of times such attacks have been prevented, the implication that someone is dropping the ball is troubling. One of the less helpful sentiments expressed in this paper as well as the media in general is the ‘why doesn’t someone do something about this’ lament.
The fact is that some problems are difficult. Implying that they can be solved without an understanding of their complexity often leads to bad policy. National security in a society that values freedom is certainly one of the most difficult. We have seen calls for a range of drastic policy changes including preventing Muslims from entering the country, deporting Muslim students and increasing photo surveillance in public places. Some of the more strident call for deporting even those with American citizenship who identify themselves as Muslim.
I am not arguing that such ideas, and others, cannot be discussed, but that they must be considered in an atmosphere, which includes an understanding of the complexity of the problem and the impact such profound changes would have on our society. We already have a society changed in very many ways by the concerns for security brought about by the 9/11 attacks. Anytime we go to an airport we are reminded of some of those changes.
Mrs. Grimes did not call for any such drastic measures. She simply expressed frustration with our seeming inability to stop these attacks. But she did imply that we need to do more to prevent these attacks in the future. We must be cautious not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Whatever we do to enhance our security must be done in such a fashion as to minimize the effects on our fundamental freedoms. This includes freedom of religion. It is certainly apparent that some people use Islam as a rationale for perpetrating heinous crimes.
It needs to be remembered, however, that most Muslims do not. When we talk about how we were once again attacked it must include the understanding that we includes believers in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam as well as myriad other beliefs.