Terrorism is a multi-headed viper that threatens our society. The news media is filled with stories about the thirty seven people injured in this weekend’s political terrorism. It makes for great political theater for the presidential campaigns and sells well for the news media.
Absolutely international terror is frightening, that is its intent. Our foreign enemies know that a small terror action will bring a big success when it is carried out on America’s doorstep. They understand the media and how to use it against us.
But wait; there is another form of terrorism that strikes much nearer to the homes of most Americans. It is an insidious form of terrorism that tears apart families and communities. It thrives on the very freedoms that we cherish and in doing so it devours our youth. But for some reason it is swept under the rug by local and national leaders.
Since 2010, in the City of New Orleans alone, there have 2,187 shootings resulting to a large extent in the 891 murders that occurred during the same period. When added to the countless other violent crimes, this is home-grown terrorism at its worst. If these numbers were causalities in a foreign war, the media would feign great outrage at our leadership. Instead the reporting is just as it was during Vietnam period, just more body counts.
To put the terror that plagues our streets in context, the 891 NOLA murders are almost one half of all the combat deaths in the Afghanistan War, and remember that NOLA is but one medium sized city in the United States. Based upon CDC averages the number of murders in the US from 2010 is well over 100,000. That is almost double the total combat deaths of all the years of the Vietnam War. International terrorism in the US pales in comparison to this form of domestic terrorism.
In response to citizen’s demand our national leaders have declared war against international terror, but why don’t big city mayors and national leaders declare war against this other form of terrorism?
To borrow from Clausewitz, “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.” I can think of many reasons why our leaders don’t declare war on crime, but sadly most are tied to the politics of power. It really doesn’t fit the political narrative to attack crime, it would be politically dangerous; it far safer for the elected to be politically correct and to point to unfathomable causes upon which to blame the failure to win the war on domestic terrorism. Sadly the media, in what appears to be an apparent effort to protect these same leaders, just turns a blind eye to the carnage.
In order to win such a war we would have to be politically incorrect, we would have to focus our resources where crime is most prevalent, not a politically correct thought. We would have to hold accountable those in authority that are incapable of winning this war. We would have to interpret our constitution in a manner that provides for the safety of the whole, even to the extent that we limit some rights for those who would chose to terrorize our streets. This war would be fought not just by the criminal justice system; it would also be fought by raising the participation in our economy of the people who are most likely to turn to crime, even as they are most likely to be victims of criminal terrorism.
Our war would have to be fought in stages; in the near-term, we would have to ratchet up force against the criminal terrorists, something not very popular with the media but the only way to stop terror in the streets. In the mid-term we would have to abandon all the failed social programs that have led to broken families and economic failure and we would have to re-create programs that lead to strong families and a citizenry that makes self-reliance, instead of government support, their goal. And finally in the-long term we would have to spend heavily on education and economic growth for the citizens of the areas that are most at risk for criminal terrorism, in order to turn them away from the allure of crime.
It would be easy to let our leaders hide behind the status quo. They could continue to play the blame game even as terror makes our streets bleed. They could continue to dream up all sorts of new government programs, even as these programs have never succeeded. It would be easy to let the media continue the sensationalism of the body count because it is not in our backyard.
But easy is never going to win the war on domestic terror. We must acknowledge the facts that what we have been doing for decades has failed, that we have been interpreting our basic law too much in favor of an individual’s rights over the rights of the citizens as a whole, and that something will surely change if we just keep doing the same old stuff. It wouldn’t change unless we take affirmative action and not in the politically correct sense. It will only work if we declare a war on domestic terrorism and we really mean it.
Terror comes in many forms, but domestic terror must be called out and must be faced head on.