I was a senior in high school on September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.
It was the start of my second period Creative Writing class. I was chatting with a friend when a classmate entered the room and declared that terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Towers. I remember thinking that Angelo, a fan of video games and comic books, had read one too many.
After all, the idea was unthinkable. But almost immediately our principal appeared on TV to confirm the terrible news.
In the sixteen years to follow we've had to live under the specter of radical, Islamic terror. Everything from airplane flights to marathons are now tainted with the fear that at any moment, disaster may strike.
It's not that this kind of danger didn't exist before 2001. Jihadists have been a regular threat in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia for decades. Osama bin Laden had wreaked havoc across the globe before his biggest attack against America. Perhaps the West was a bit too arrogant to think it would never affect us on the same level.
Yet ever since 9-11 we have battled this constant fear. In recent years we have seen a shocking amount of attacks around the world. Some were lone wolf attacks- like the shooting at Pulse Night club in Orlando- some, like in Paris were orchestrated by ISIS agents. But the reality is jihadists continue to pose a threat to all peaceful peoples of the world, and despite efforts to stop them, they still linger.
Last month we witnessed the horror as a man mowed down innocent people in London and killed cop. That was quickly followed by another car attack and a bombing in Russia. This week a police officer was killed in France by a terrorist. Like cockroaches living in your basement, radical Islamic terrorists still lurk in the dark, waiting to strike.
What does this mean for civilized society? Should we now just consider terrorism a regular part of our lives, nothing more than an inconvenience like traffic?
I remember my Vice-Principal announcing that our high school graduation was a "post 9-11 event," meaning that new security standards had to be put into place to prevent any form of attack. Such is the case with everything in this day and age.
Perhaps there is no going back. Perhaps we need to accept the fact that jihadists and terrorists of all stripes will constantly be a threat.
Perhaps we should get our wills in order and carry around a body bag wherever we go. Save some time, right?
At least that's what some empty-headed people in Europe are saying.
In an interview with French radio, Emmanuel Macron said that terrorism is something the French people will need to learn to live with...
Macron – Marine Le Pen’s top opponent – claims that the threat of terrorism is going to be a part of the daily life of French citizens and is expected to be Marine Le Pen’s top opponent. (via Milo)
The potential future president of France, who could become the country's leader, has expressed a shocking lack of leadership and vision when facing the ongoing threat of terrorism. His words strike a terribly similar accord with Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who said that terror attacks are "part and parcel of life in a big city."
Now I don't want to say these men are cowards, but that's the best word I can use to describe them.
Is it because political correctness has become such a poison in society that leaders refuse to take a real stance on this issue? Are these men- not unlike many in America- really unwilling to take a definitive stance against something as terrible as radical, Islamic terrorism?
Sure, they're liberals, so they might not want to call out the fact that it is "radical, Islamic terrorism," but no matter how you slice it, people are dying. There is an existential threat to the very people that support them. Any official with half a brain should make a clear statement that they will do everything in their power to wipe out this threat.
Are European leaders so limp-wristed that they can't even say that?
I know comparing them to Donald Trump is like shooting European fish in a barrel, but I will. During the campaign Trump said, in no uncertain terms, that he was going to wipe ISIS out.
Already his Secretary of Defense has taken steps to destroy the terrorist cell, most recently by using the biggest non-nuclear bomb in existence.
I mean, we could have used drone strikes, we could have used a few carpet bombs or missiles. Instead we used the Mother Of All Bombs to decimate an ISIS supply cache. It wasn't even to target terrorists (although 35 of the roaches died), but just to cripple a part of their network.
That's how the United States is handling terrorism. France and England? They are making excuses. They want their people to just accept the fact that at any moment, a crazed lunatic might mow them down in a car or take them hostage and mutilate their genitals.
I may not be a politician, but that's some pretty weak sauce leadership.
But let's pause for a moment and consider what they are saying. Maybe it is true. Maybe despite all our best efforts, terrorism is here to stay.
I mean, since 9-11, the U.S. and other nations have implemented stricter security measures, sent soldiers overseas, and have taken great pains to end terrorism- yet it still exists.
Putting aside the many times terror plots have been foiled in recent years- because of increased efforts by governments and law enforcement- there are still changes that can be made to stem the growth of radical, Islamic terror.
(And if you're offended by that term, please suggest a better one- because that's the best we’ve got.)
Right now the United Kingdom is taking steps to prevent incarcerated jihadists from recruiting from within.
Dangerous jihadists will be locked up in ‘prisons within prisons’ to stop them brainwashing vulnerable inmates.
Up to 28 Muslim extremists will be caged in specialist ‘separation centres’ in a drive to tackle the growing problem of radicalisation behind bars...
Each will house only a small number of prisoners, making it easier to monitor them and reduce the risk of them plotting atrocities from behind bars.
They are expected to be isolated from the rest of the prison rather than in wings attached to the main jail. There the inmates would be subjected to intensive de-radicalisation programmes. (via Daily Mail)
Now, I don't know how effective their de-radicalization programs will be, but keeping jihadists away from other criminals sounds like a step in the right direction. If it seems strange that terrorists would recruit inmates by converting and radicalizing them, keep in mind that Khalid Masood, the recent London attacker, was recruited in just this way.
It's been such an ongoing problem in U.K. prisons that's it actually shocking they haven't taken measures sooner. Perhaps political correctness has prevented wardens from openly acknowledging this reality. But when people are murdered in the streets of London, political correctness tends to take a back seat.
These kinds of steps will have a direct impact on how much groups like ISIS can infiltrate countries. By denying terrorists the chance to recruit new agents, it reduces the amount of people plotting against the West. Fewer plots equal less attacks. It's pretty basic math.
Couple that kind of strategy with other common sense steps and you can see a change in the tide. With the U.S. and other forces striking hard at ISIS bases in the Middle East, we can cut off the head of the serpent. When major jihadist leaders are captured or killed, it sends a message to the world that terrorism will not be tolerated.
It's amazing to see what you can accomplish when you have real leadership at the helm. Imagine if you had a city where the cops refused to arrest criminals and the courts let everyone go. Crime would be out of control, wouldn't it? But when you have police who do their jobs and courts that prosecute criminals, there may be people out there seeking to do wrong, but there will be quite a bit fewer of them.
There may always be groups that mean the world harm. Terrorists, be they radical Islamic or otherwise, will always want to fester in the darkness. But they can be neutered through the use of strategic force and intelligent steps to rob them of their influence.
Perhaps with such measures we can restore the sense of peace and security to our cities and countries. Perhaps with smart tactics, vigilant protection, and leaders with backbone, rampant terrorism in Europe, America and the rest of the world can be a thing of the past.
At the very least, we should fight to make that a reality