Terrorists seek to disrupt through fear. And the more afraid they make us the more apt we are to act emotionally and irrationally because of this fear. Since 9/11 we have acted irrationally when it comes to air travel, and the failed Christmas plot has really driven us into frenzy that is causing us to take ridiculous actions. If next time terrorists threaten a shopping mall, then I assume we would develop irrational fears and actions to protect malls. And soon the terrorists are essentially in control, as fear has driven us to change our lifestyles. There is a big difference between taking reasonable methods to protect our security, and completely altering our lifestyles because of fear.
I would argue that there is a more subtle, but perhaps even more dangerous kind of terrorism going on courtesy of the American media. Unfortunately fear drives viewership, and the media thrives on any story that makes us afraid. Consequently most of our legitimate journalists have been replaced by these new media “terrorists” that seek ratings by filling us with fear, anger, and distrust. They operate from both the left and the right, spewing rumors and innuendo that keep people glued to the screen. When much of the population is convinced that our President is actually a socialist foreign-born Muslim that favors killing off the elderly, people naturally get afraid. It also spreads panic when people are convinced that the world will end in the next few months due to global warming, that Pakistan and North Korea are preparing nuclear strikes, and that the flu vaccine is deadly. Certainly global warming, nuclear weapons, and public health are important issues that need to be discussed, but the terrorists in the media are less interested in public discourse than they are sensationalism.
I think it is quite possible that the ranting and fear mongering that now typifies mass media is having an incredibly negative long-term impact on society. The truth is that for most of the world, this is the best possible time to be alive. While the human race is far from perfect and we face many massive problems, the large majority of mankind lives happier, healthier lives than those that came before us. But that doesn’t make good news. Nor does all the incredible work that is going on around the world that will solve these big problems.
These media terrorists might not blow up airplanes or plant roadside bombs, but I suspect they are even more effective than Arab terrorists at destroying optimism and people’s spirits. Luckily these kinds of terrorists are easier to identify, and easier to eliminate than the ones that live in caves in Pakistan. We need to eliminate them by turning the dial, refusing to buy their ridiculous books, complaining to the companies that support them with advertising, and flatly rejecting their terrorist messages designed to crush our spirits.