I Don't Fear Terrorism - I Fear YOUR Reaction to it
My gut seized up. I mourned for the victims, felt sorry for the city of Paris. I was angry that some group of radicals keep running around hurting humanity like this. Mostly though: I was afraid, terrified. But I wasn't afraid of terrorists. I was afraid of what the world would be like after these attacks.
Four days after the attacks, and my fears are already being realized.
Yesterday in London, a man tried to push a young Muslim woman in front of a tube train. Luckily, bystanders were able to intervene on the woman's behalf.
At nearly the same time in Toronto, another young Muslim woman was beat up by two men while on her way to pick up her son from elementary school. This came a couple of days after a mosque in Peterborough was the victim of arson.
With tens of thousands of people trying to escape the endless drought and war of Syria, it doesn't help that certain governments are now conflating refugees with terrorists.
Meanwhile, I have seen far too many of my friends on Facebook being compelled to loudly remind their own friends that any racist comments they see will result in immediate unfriending. Luckily, I haven't seen anything racist from people on my own newsfeed: I hold my people to an extremely high standard in that regard.
I can tell that I will have new, unfortunate fodder for my technology and digital rights articles as the world's intelligence community begins grumbling about how much better the world would be if we would just ban encryption: A tactic which would be devastating to our security and expose hundreds of millions of people worldwide to theft of money and identity.
As a Canadian, I wonder what will become of the Liberals' much-promised Bill C-51 reforms after the Paris and Lebanon attacks.
All of these thoughts arrive with the sobering realization that, as a North American, you're way more likely to die from a heart attack than from terrorism. They arrive with the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, even the worst terrorist attacks aren't nearly as expensive as our knee-jerk reactions to them.
I see a people who define themselves as friendly, accepting, democratic, and FREE, turning into racist thugs and bullies. I see a people ready to turn over their most essential civic freedoms, and their actual digital security, to protect themselves from the remote possibility of a terror attack. I see a people who, when the going gets tough, abandon their high principles so that they can react, rather than think.
I'm not afraid of terrorists. I am afraid of us.