He may not have been a terrorist, but he was wearing “a padded coat and cap” in July for God’s sake. And he was a Brazilian electrician, certainly cause for alarm in terror-spooked London. So the cops chased him into a subway station and pumped him full of lead. It’s what you get for being weird when people are scared. Scotland Yard’s acknowledgement that the shooting was a “tragedy” will surely be enough to quiet the left-wing, wine-sipping, off-spring of Chamberlain who think that a police state is an immoral response to terrorism.
While the British bobbies were killing an innocent immigrant, the U.S. House of Representatives was voting to extend the Patriot Act, insuring that George Bush’s successor will have the necessary tools to keep the Bill of Rights in mothballs. It may not frighten Al Qaeda, but it should scare the bejeezus out of anybody who loves the ideals enshrined in the notion of America: freedom of speech, religion and assembly. Americans spent two hundred years defending those ideals, and paid dearly in blood, sweat and tears. The long dark night of the American soul has just gotten longer.
The fear of Islamic terrorism has become defining emotion of the twenty-first century in the West. We’ve invaded two countries in a vain attempt to “root out the evil-doers.” All we’ve succeeded in doing is breeding more young men and women who are willing to blow themselves up while killing others whose only crime is standing too close to one of God’s bombers.
Violating our own standards of democracy and freedom will never end religious terrorism or faith-based totalitarianism. All the world’s prisons are not big enough to hold every padded-coat-and-cap-wearing dark-skinned misfit.
It’s time to try something else.
It’s time to fight lies with truth, not more lies. It’s time to end American support of dictatorships whose oil drives our security policies and who give aid and comfort to faith-based fascism. It’s time to embark on a new Manhattan Project which will forever end our dependence on fossil fuels spiked with blood. It’s time to engage Muslim scholars who can make the case powerfully and publicly that suicide bombing is apostasy from Islam. It’s time to bring the troops home from Iraq and change our efforts from war-making to rebuilding a country that we helped to destroy back when we liked Saddam and when we didn’t. It’s time to win this war, without bombs, bullets or blowing up the Constitution.
It’s time to end the long, dark night of the American soul.