It has been a little more than a week since the arrest of an apparently home-grown jihadist in the wealthy Boston suburb of Sudbury, Massachusetts on federal terrorism charges for allegedly conspiring with others and planning attacks on American shopping malls. I don’t know about you, but news of this man’s arrest and plans disappeared from the news cycles far too quickly from my taste.
At a time when Democrats are looking to make America less safe through measures like the gutting of the PATRIOT Act and the investigation of intelligence-gathering practices and possible prosecution of intelligence officials, we should be asking any number of questions about attacks on so-called “soft” targets on American soil: How many more men like the one arrested are there? What are we doing right in terms of keeping America safe? What could we do better? And, the question which I’ve been asking myself for a number of years now . . .
Why hasn’t it happened yet?
Like our nation’s schools, our shopping malls are about as soft as targets can get. At schools across the country, no-weapons policies deter the capacity for self-defense among capable teachers or students who, like me, choose to abide by the law, and at shopping malls we’ve watched as Hollywood comedies have been made about the incompetence of and lack of preparedness among mall security officers. As a result, we’ve witnessed just how much of a soft target our schools and malls are in recent years as gunmen who possessed neither formal training nor the fervor of radical ideology killed innocent men, women and children at shopping malls in Utah and Nebraska and schools in Virginia, Colorado and Illinois.
We’ve seen, time and time again, that “gun-free zones” do nothing but ensure that people like Sulejman Talović or Seung-Hui Cho have little or no barriers to the manifestation of their madness. Like those sick men, jihadists care little about our laws.
So, why haven’t we seen more terrorism on a smaller, less-grand scale? Why haven’t we seen the result of a backpack left under a table in a Starbucks and later detonated? Why haven’t we seen homicide and suicide bombing of mass transit buses and trains? Why haven’t we seen a Mumbai-style attack on an office building, hotel, supermarket or shopping mall, or a Beslan-style attack on an elementary school?
Certainly, any one of those attacks, especially if repeated, would bring America to its knees. Heck, at the height of the sniper attacks in and around Washington, D.C.–weren’t guns illegal there at the time, by the way?–as people up and down the I-95 corridor kept their heads on a swivel, looking around for white vans as they gassed up their cars, I was convinced that we could very well see attacks of a similar nature in cities large and small across the country, all too aware of the effect they would have upon our consumer-centric economy.
Thankfully, we never saw copycat attacks, and we have not yet seen small-scale terrorist attacks here on American soil. But why? While there may be no absolute answer, there are a few relevant factors.
- Wiretapping and surveillance. When it comes to whether a law is good or bad, I’m no fan of the PATRIOT Act. It runs afoul of the Constitution. It represents the edge of a dangerous, slippery slope in terms of government involvement in American lives. But when it comes to whether a law is effective, there is no question that PATRIOT has saved American lives. That congressional Democrats are bragging about having the opportunity to pull the teeth from that law makes me absolutely sick.
- Geographical distraction. A fancy way of saying that we’re fighting them in Afghanistan and Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here. While I’m not certain of the makeup of those currently killing our fighting men and women in Afghanistan, I know that a large number of insurgents in pre-surge Iraq were coming from other nations, true-believing jihadists eager to have a shot at Americans.
- The lingering taste of the “Cowboy Diplomacy” so reviled by the left. Terrorists around the world knew that any attack on America would be responded in kind. Any of that swagger left behind by the previous administration, however, is dwindling if not gone due to Barack Obama’s detente-at-all-costs approach to foreign policy, and lack of commitment to the Global War on Terror as a whole.
- An armed society. America is not England. America is not France. Terrorists who plan on attacking soft targets like shopping malls will be met with opposition, not from military personnel or law enforcement officers, but from ordinary Americans who have taken it upon themselves to protect their families. We’ve seen the lifesaving effect of armed citizens in a number of occasions, including at Appalachian Law School and the aforementioned Trolley Square Mall shooting; in both cases, a murderous rampage was cut short by someone carrying their own weapon.
There’s more, of course, but you get the point. We’ve gone from being on the offensive against radical Islamic jihad to apologizing for past American conduct, assuaging dictatorial world leaders with every chance, and erring on the side of ignorance rather than vigilance. We’re in the process of securing uniquely American rights for those caught in the act of attacking American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. We’re Mirandizing terrorists on the battlefield. In short, we’re doing everything possible to handcuff our own efforts to preserve American safety and security, and doing so in the name of political correctness.
It’s only a matter of time, folks, until blood is once again shed on American soil. So far, the Obama administration has been catching wannabe terrorists in the nick of time, but if this president and his flunkies continue to undermine our intelligence capabilities, erode morale among those who keep America safe, and handcuff our troops on the battlefield, his string of luck may very well run out.