We Americans have much for which to be thankful

We Americans have much for which to be thankful, for the many blessings we have received as a nation. France hasn’t been as blessed as we of late. Nor have the people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, Russia, Kenya, and many others. Jihad is winning the battles. But will it win the war?

If it does win, how will it win? Not by massive military battles that conquer capitals, but by a thousand cuts that bleed out our treasure, our confidence, our liberties. Individually, they don’t seem like much. Collectively, our freedom fritters away.

In free societies - what Islamic terrorists want to eradicate - we can’t stop every attack. Along with enduring extreme ideas and words, we will have to endure terrorist bombings, shootings and attacks. We have to be realistic about this if we want to remain free.

But while fatalism is OK, fear is not. The only way we can win is to not be afraid – to use a now overused British WWII call to action, to “Keep Calm and Carry On” - to not permit our liberty to be consumed by a drastic desire for security.

But Jihad is winning that battle right now too. According to Jessica Huseman at MIC.com, after Sept. 11, 2001, “America understandably amped up security, created the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration and has spent upwards of $740 billion (on homeland security) to date.”

As for right now, at least, a rich nation, “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money” (attributed to former Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen) is a joke we can afford to make. Maybe our security is worth billions - even trillions - and maybe not. Yet either way, we’re talking about obscene amounts of money spent since 9/11 on “making us safer.” But has it been worth it, especially when the cost is weighed against the real and potential assault on our liberties?

“Is the money being spent on the sometimes vague and amorphous notion of ‘homeland security’ worth the cost, to say nothing of the cost to civil liberties? Probably not,” Huseman continued in her column. “Almost all long term, academic cost-benefit analyses of national security spending have determined that we are spending too much and reaping too few benefits.”

Overall, between the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Transportation Security Administration, trillions have been spent on our security, according to several sources including National Priorities.Org and Fox News contributor John Stossell. He wrote in 2011, “After 9/11, the U.S. Congress created the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. America went to war, overtly and covertly, in several countries. Nearly $8 trillion (has been) spent on what is called ‘security.’”

What has that spending on our security meant to our liberty? Intrusion into private communication on a massive scale. Cameras on every street corner in our cities. In Europe, a three-month extension on the French “state of emergency” since the Paris terrorist attacks imposed reduced civil liberties and increased police powers on the French people. The news media harps, “100,000 police and soldiers are on the streets of France,” like it’s a badge of honor, like there’s something positive about militarizing a free society and its adverse, freedom warping consequences.

Reduced civil liberties and increased police (religious and otherwise) powers are, of course, goals of Islamic terrorists. A Brussels “Level Four Lockdown” this past weekend (extended into this week) restricted freedom of movement. Canceled soccer games, shuttered businesses, raids and arrests without warrant, empty streets, closed schools, restrictions on large gatherings and protests, prohibitions on “inflammatory language” — can sharia law be far behind?

What about martial law in the United States if we are similarly attacked as Parisians were? According to some polls, Frenchmen agreed they would be willing to offer their liberty for security. Should Americans make the same bargain with the devil? Every street corner camera we ignore in the name of security is another cut — more costs, less liberty, more bleeding.

If we won’t fight government’s attempt to limit our liberty in the name of security, we’re doomed. Bled dry. Jihad wins.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” These words appear in a letter widely presumed to be written by Benjamin Franklin in 1755. Franklin’s words were predominately about money — not terrorism. But we should all be very wary. These same words can be easily applied to the perilous situation we find ourselves in today harboring a dangerous fear of Islamic terrorism.

Focusing on our blessings — keeping calm and carrying on — is what will ultimately beat Jihad, not freedom-killing security.

Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at fetzerab@ec.rr.com.