11 years and one month ago, a colleague and I wondered what the next attack would be. At the time, I thought it would be a remote controlled plane dropping chemical and biological weapons on the White House. The idea being that the US's military might made terrorism more likely, since it was the only effective form of violence left to opposition groups. Attacks were getting more numerous and brazen. Terrorists were going after symbols like a military ship and a US embassy. It was only a matter of time before another attack on US soil.
Why was I looking at this? In his last course at Dalhousie, Anthony Barton warned us the cultural divide between Muslim and Western worlds was about to explode. Unlike the Cold War, this time we knew almost nothing about those who hated us. How many letters are there in the Arabic alphabet? Who was their equivalent to Shakespeare? Their most famous mathematician? Hardly anyone in the class knew, as hardly anyone reading this. During the Cold War, many universities were teaching Russian Studies. How many teach Arabic? At the time, a mere handful.
Because our elected officials everywhere reacted to people's fears, our world is more cruel and violent than it was 10 years ago. Staggering sums have been spent trying to give people the illusion. Countries have been invaded, causing far more casualties than the initial attack. Rather than make more attacks less likely, they have only helped fringe groups recruit more members while creating new targets.
11 years is enough time.
We need to stop being afraid.
We must accept that perfect security is an impossible goal. Even if we sacrifice all our liberties.
We must heal the cultural rift.