Much of America is giggling about the TSA groping and body-scanning. Well, we need a good laugh right about now, and it always helps us to laugh at ourselves. But out there, somewhere, Osama Bin Laden is laughing -- and he's not laughing with us over this, he's laughing at us. Closing in on ten years after 9/11, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in moving America toward chaos. Grope-gate is proof of his progress.
At very low cost to him -- the loss of a couple of would-be martyrs and some fancy underpants -- Bin Laden has pushed the U.S. to eviscerate its civil liberties, formerly the envy of freedom-loving people everywhere. The right to be protected against unreasonable searches, the right to free speech, the right to a speedy trial, the right to be secure in one's home, all guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, were temporarily put aside in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001; but nine-plus years later, not only haven't these rights been restored by a supposedly-liberal Obama administration, they seem to be even further away from being reinstituted. What a side-splitter for Bin Laden! Whatever weakens Americans' trust in their government, and their feeling of freedom, is good news for him. He loves to watch on his satellite TV ordinary Americans being prodded, pushed, peeked at, and having their mail, e-mail, tweets, and library loans examined by their government. Fear is wonderfully contagious.
Bin Laden cannot help but be positively giddy over the growing anti-Muslim fervor in the United States. He must be praising Allah for it, knowing, as he surely does, that when the country that he labeled the Great Satan gallops closer to a Holy War against Muslims, he wins. For several decades he has tried to heat up that war. Right after 9/11, the possibility of such a war receded to the point that even Iran helped in the hunt for him as mastermind of the attacks. But the good will between the U.S. and the Muslim world has since deteriorated, shredded by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of a Muslim country, Iraq. Bin Laden must realize, deep down, that the best way to eliminate him and Al Qaeda as threats is through an alliance between the Western democracies and the world's non-radical Muslims: once middle-of-the-road Muslims get the idea that it is to their benefit to deny him safety, succor, funds, and information, his days will be numbered. But that's not going to happen if anti-Muslim activities in the West accelerate and force moderate Muslims to be on the defensive and to reject cooperation with the West.
These nine-plus years have also seen a marked change in the U.S distribution of wealth, a change likely to be of comfort to Bin Laden because of its potential for disrupting America. A generation ago, the trend toward the rich becoming much richer and the middle class slipping down the ladder had begun; but it has since been exacerbated by the disproportionate tax cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy, and by the draining of the Treasury for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Any enemy that seeks the destruction of the United States would be heartened to have this country's income distribution scale come to resemble that of a banana republic, with the top few percent of the population controlling most of the country's wealth and the majority just a paycheck or two from financial desperation. That sort of disparity is a prescription for social disaster and for the promulgating of new repressive measures to protect the wealthy from the anger of those struggling to stay afloat in an economy unable to produce new middle class jobs. Further destabilization will make us more vulnerable.
Fixing our economy is a lot more central to our security as a nation than the full-body scans and pat-downs at domestic airports that, most experts agree, will not protect us from a future terrorist action.
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