In the aftermath of 9/11, a lot of people told us we needed to sacrifice our freedoms in order to stay safe. They told us we needed to have the PATRIOT act — the provisions of which had been rejected by saner Congresses in the peaceful months and years before 9/11. They told us we needed to have secret courts and warrentless searches and extraordinary rendition. They told us that air travelers would have to be treated like prisoners.
And whenever those of us who objected spoke up, whenever we suggested that maybe giving up freedom for security was a bad idea, the scaremongers and bootlickers would respond that we had to “wake up to the new reality,” that wanting freedom from a police state was “pre-9/11 thinking” or “9/10 thinking.” They acted as if freedom was old fashioned and based on a reality that didn’t exist anymore.
Well, times have changed. It’s now 9/12.
There have been 9/12’s before, but on this 9/12, the events of 9/11 are ten years behind us. It’s been ten years since the terrorist attack that killed three thousand people, and in that ten years, we’ve had a rather peaceful time in the United States. There have been a few other incidents on American soil, but there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11. There hasn’t even been a terrorist attack on 1/100 the scale of 9/11.
The single largest domestic terrorism incident since 9/11 was the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 in which 13 people died. The second largest incident was the 2001 anthrax attack, which killed five people. No other domestic attack killed more than 2 people. The full ten-year domestic terrorism death toll is only about 30 people.
(I got these numbers from this post by Ronald Bailey. The count of terrorism deaths will vary depending on how you define terrorism, and if you include Americans killed by terrorist incidents in every hellhole in the world, the number is closer to 20 per yer. Either figure is quite a bit smaller than the number of Americans killed each year by lightning.)
Look at it this way: As of today, the ten-year moving average of domestic terrorism deaths has dropped from 300 to 3. It’s now the fearmongers who are living in the past.
So if a law enforcement advocate says we need sneek-and-peek warrants and a militarized police force, then he’s still living in what we might as well call a “pre-9/12 world.” If the Justice Department wants to monitor every bit of cash that flows through our economy, lest it be used for terrorism, then they need to stop living in the past. If Janet Napolitano thinks we need the TSA to rape and degrade airline passengers, then she’s the one who needs to wake up to a new reality.
9/11 is over. It’s been over for ten years. All this crap — internet monitoring, data mining, new Fourth Amendment exceptions, video cameras everywhere, GPS devices on cars — it’s all a reaction to the way the world used to be, not to the way the world is today.
Actually, since 9/11 has turned out to be something of a singular event, it’s arguable that the world was never that way at all. Granted, it wasn’t clear at the time, but given what we know now, the chance of dying in a terrorist attack on or after September 12, 2001 was not significantly greater than the chance of dying in a terrorist attack on or before September 10, 2001. When it comes to the risk of domestic terrorism, 9/11 didn’t change everything. It changed nothing.
We’ve been living in a pre-9/11 world all along. And now that we’ve had ten years to figure it out, it’s about time we told the scaremongers and power-junkies to get lost. It’s about time we took our freedom back.
Mark is a computer programmer, website builder, photographer, and sometimes journalist in Chicago, where he also writes the long-running Windypundit blog.