From the Perverse to the Pathetic

Terror attacks in Western nations are about to become as common as those in Israel. "Could it happen here?" was nearly all you heard on television in the days following the July 7 bombings in London. Not only could it happen here, but it will.

The responses to the recent attacks range from the perverse to the pathetic. Following the thankfully failed attempts to detonate four more explosive devices this past Thursday, British police decided to put their "shoot em in the head" policy into action, ultimately killing a "suspicious" man by emptying five bullets into his head. Too bad it turns out he was completely innocent and had absolutely no connection with terrorism. Let's hear it for reactionary violence and public displays of brute force! I'm sure it makes Britons feel safe knowing that they could be shot in the head for running while wearing a jacket too heavy for the weather. (Look out Martin Lawrence! You're fucking next!)

In the United States, civil liberties, that battered wife of the post 9/11 era, became the victim of the war against international terrorism yet again. The eager opportunists of the G.O.P. wasted little time in using the London attacks as justification for the renewing (and ideally making permanent) the Patriot Act. That rubber stamp known as the House of Representatives, with its grossly overwhelming Republican majority, made sure it went through on their end. Whether or not the Senate will allow this injustice to transpire remains unseen. Maybe if the Democrats show some of that proverbial backbone I might again be able to take out a library book without ending up on a watch list.

Meanwhile, a few hours north of these Beltway shenanigans, New Yorkers like myself were treated to the NYPD's latest solution to fighting Al Qaeda: random bag searches on public transportation systems. The spectre of security, the illusion of safety was in full meaningless swing as police officers, vowing not to racially profile anyone whatsoever, set up tables at subway, bus, and commuter railroad stations, opening and emptying bags. Those who resisted this policy would not be allowed to ride at that station that day.

For those of you in the misguided "let's trade liberty for safety" camp, here's a fun step-by-step method for the hip, happenin' on-the-go terrorist to getting around these annoying searches. So you walk into a train station with a big bomb backpack and there's a table with cops. You can leave right then and there. But even if you decide to chance it by trying to go through, under the rules you can *still*, if asked, refuse to allow your bag to be inspected and leave the station. The next station (in either direction) is undoubtedly no more than 10-15 blocks, a minor inconvenience for someone who wants to kill loads of people.

That method took me all of one minute to develop. How long do you think it will take for a terrorist determined to do immense harm and incite immense fear to figure that out?

---- Rawpigs