Quote of the Day:
Living in Israel in those crowded years taught me that free people aren’t so easily cowed by terror, and that jihadists are no match for a determined democracy.
Brett Stephens in this morning's Wall Street Journal
In this must-read column headlined "Life During Wartime," Stephens proposes that, as terrorist attacks become more common, banal liberal pieties will be seen for what they are–banal liberal pieties that, into the bargain, can cause actual harm to citizens who are innocently going about their daily lives, minding their own business.
In the wake of the weekend's Chelsea bombing (yes, Hillary, it was a bomb) and other assorted weekend terror events, Stephens writes about how Israel (where he lived for two years) beefed up its security and responded to terror and the implications for us:
All this was done in the teeth of overwhelming international condemnation and the tut-tutting of experts who insisted only a “political solution” could break the “cycle of violence.” Instead, the Israeli military broke that cycle by building a wall and crippling the Palestinians’ capacity to perpetrate violence. In 2002 there were 47 bombings. In 2007 the number had come down to one.
What’s the lesson here for Americans? This past weekend’s terrorist attacks hold at least two. One is that there is a benefit for a society that allows competent and responsible adults to carry guns, like the off-duty police officer who shot the knife-wielding jihadist in St. Cloud, Minn. Another is that there is an equal benefit in the surveillance methods that allowed police in New York and New Jersey to swiftly identify and arrest Mr. Rahimi before his bombing spree took any lives.
These are lessons the political left in this country doesn’t want to hear, lest they unsettle established convictions that weapons can only cause violence, not stop it, and that security is the antithesis of, not a precondition to, civil liberty.
But hear them they will. The eclipse of al Qaeda by Islamic State means the terrorist threat is evolving from elaborately planned spectaculars such as 9/11 or the 2004 Madrid train bombings to hastily improvised and executed blood orgies of the sort we saw this year in Nice and Orlando. As attacks become more frequent and closer to everyday life, public tolerance for liberal pieties will wane. Not least among the casualties of the Palestinian intifada was the Israeli left.
Living in Israel in those crowded years taught me that free people aren’t so easily cowed by terror, and that jihadists are no match for a determined democracy. But it also taught me that democracies rarely muster their full reserves of determination until they’ve been bloodied one time too many.