Terrorists need news channels and vice-versa. Politicians need terrorists and vice-versa. There’s a symbiosis between these three that works like this:
Terrorists create and feed off of fear.
News channels deliver fear to the masses.
Politicians use fear to get what they want.
Some people may object to these facts being specified, but they’re true just the same.
Private and Public Opportunism
In this symbiosis, we see the rapacious natures of both the public and private sectors. I’ll begin by picking on the private sector.
I believe deeply in free markets, but if the participants don’t bring morality and decency into their markets, plenty of ugliness will remain. Free markets, after all, are ad hoc mechanisms of interaction, and nothing more. A market contains only the morality that its participants carry into it.
Now, the truth is that mom-and-pop operations tend to be remarkably decent and moral. There are occasional exceptions, but they are exceptions.
Big commerce, however – and by that I mean the “pay politicians for laws and regulations” kind of commerce – tends to run after anything that brings in more money or pumps its stock. Such corporations seldom bring morality into their markets. And if governments try to enforce law in their markets, it’s a good bet that they can be paid off. (Where’s Jon Corzine these days?)
News channels are this second type of operation. Frightening stories are the engine of their profits. They scour the Earth for terrifying images and fearful possibilities. And then they deliver them to huge swaths of humanity, who have an innate weakness for such things. It’s like selling sugar donuts to the obese.
As for the public sector, these are the people who deliver various types of monopoly rights in return for “contributions.” Multi-billion dollar industries are devoted to this, after all.
Politicians are also the people who say, in their forthright moments, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”
All of the above being so, we see this at the end of the line:
For news channels, terrorism means profits.
For politicians, terrorism means the steamrolling of dissent.
Terrorism furthers the goals of both these groups, and so they run greedily after it.
Terrorism Is Theater
As for the actual terrorists – evil, deceived beings that they are – they have learned to plan loud, flamboyant events, knowing that they’ll be broadcast all across the world. This is theater to them, you understand.
To make this point, I’ll quote from Lee Harris’s article, “Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology,” published back in 2002:
The terror attack of 9-11 was not designed to make us alter our policy, but was crafted for its effect on the terrorists themselves: It was a spectacular piece of theater. The targets were chosen by al Qaeda… entirely because they stood as symbols of American power universally recognized by the Arab street. They were gigantic props in a grandiose spectacle in which the collective fantasy of radical Islam was brought vividly to life: A mere handful of Muslims, men whose will was absolutely pure, as proven by their martyrdom, brought down the haughty towers erected by the Great Satan. What better proof could there possibly be that God was on the side of radical Islam and that the end of the reign of the Great Satan was at hand?
The bottom line is this:
Hoards of frightened infidels provide a climax to the terrorist’s drama. It’s the big payoff.
On top of that, the more intelligent terrorists know how the Western game is played, and they know what Western politicians will do with it – what they have done with it. Here are the words of Osama Bin Laden, quoted by NewsMax, February 1, 2002:
I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The US government will lead the American people, and the West in general, into an unbearable hell and a choking life.
That’s another big payoff for them.
At the End of the Day…
Both politicians and news channels have eagerly sold fear to achieve their own ends. There’s barely any way to deny that. Those who expected better from either of these groups should revisit their assumptions.
Furthermore, those who have played into the fear game need to extract themselves from it. We humans are wired to over-respond to fear, but we are also intelligent, willful beings, and we can control our own actions.
Just say no to it all. Because at the end of the day, this is also true:
As long as we keep giving our attention to news channels and politicians, terrorists will keep getting exactly what they want.