Sunday, August 9, 2009

Terrorists Want to Win. Get it?

Several months ago Judea Pearl, the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, asked the question this way: “When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?”

It appears that those luminaries have won the war on the war on terror. Scores of innocents will continue to be killed by terrorists but their lives will no longer be part of a narrative that we understand as the fight against terrorism. In the secular liberal tradition beginning with Hobbes, the greatest human passion was said to be fear of violent death. With some modifications by Locke, the social contract minimizes that fear when we give up certain natural rights to the civil government in return for the protection of our rights to life, liberty and property. Civil government, Locke continues, is appointed by God “to restrain the partiality and violence of men.”

The terrorist has never accepted these Enlightenment cultural norms. He rejects the modern liberal tradition at its heart because he has overcome the fear of violent death. He recognizes nothing in this tradition that would prevent him from imposing his will—to the point of murder—on whomever he chooses.

Read it all here.

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