Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jon Stewart Offers Interesting Analogy About Dangers of Trying to "Defeat" Terrorism

Last night, while interviewing (it begins at 3:06) England's Tony Blair, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, gave an interesting analogy on the notion of trying to "defeat" terrorism.

He said that he has cockroaches in his New York apartment. He calls the exterminator and they come and fumigate. But the cockroaches inevitably return. If he wanted to truly be rid of these pests once and for all, he could seal off his apartment from the outside world and drop a continuous stream of bug bombs inside to keep them out. But what kind of a life would this leave for him and his family?

Blair does not really respond to this analogy, but it is an interesting way to think about the problem. Of course we have to be careful about seeming to "belittle" terrorism as a problem. Senator Kerry once said that we needed to get to a place where terrorism was nothing more than a nuisance. The Bush/Cheney team had a field day promising that they would never look at terrorism in such light terms. They would hunt it down, root it out and destroy it. Well they had eight years (seven if you start counting post-9/11) and of course they never came close to reaching that absurd and unattainable goal.

And I, for one, cannot blame them for falling short. Rather I blame them for claiming that it was possible in the first place. We as a nation need to look at terrorism realistically. We need to combat it with everything we have. But, as Jon Stewart says, we will no sooner destroy every last terrorist than we will see an end to cockroaches in New York or trashy reality shows on MTV. It is just the nature of the world. 

We can attempt to invade every nation with terrorists within it, but I think that the US is now officially on that list. And I know that England is. So in the meantime, let us do everything in our power to fight terrorism without lying to ourselves that terrorism can ever truly be "defeated.:" It cannot.

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