November 28, 2010
Bombs Don't Kill People; Terrorists Do
The Left's obsession with focusing on dangerous things, rather than dangerous people, shows up in different ways. Bombs, for example, are designed to be safe. My father served at Fort Sill Army Base during part of his time in military service. That base is home to the United States Army Field Artillery School. In addition, every Marine trains in field artillery trains at Fort Sill, as do friendly military forces from other nations. The sheer amount of potential destructive power in the hands of these young men dwarfs everything that each terrorist group in the Middle East could ever muster. Yet Fort Sill is a very safe place to be. Extreme caution is taken to make sure that the vast munitions at this base are no threat to anyone. Why? The people with artillery are the good guys. Artillery shells don't kill people; bad guys do.
The whole dreary debate over gun control smacks of the same tone-deaf Leftist foolishness. Americans grew up with guns, and often guns much less safe than those made today. Young boys went out and hunted game. Many families grew up with rifles or shotguns on racks in the living room. When people owned guns and knew how to use the guns safely, the danger of violent crime was much lower than today. The violent crime rate in America has increased by 170% since 1960 despite the increased number of federal and state gun control laws. Guns did not cause these crimes; criminals did. Treating all Americans like criminals did not make us safer at all.
The leftist lunacy when it comes to potentially dangerous things and genuinely dangerous people was rampant during the Cold War. Nuclear weapons, silly people across the Free World told us, were a grave danger to the survival of mankind. Yet what sane person lost a wink of sleep because France had 482 nuclear warheads, or because Britain had 200 nuclear warheads? It was inconceivable that either nation, which had the power to kill perhaps 100 million people in an hour, would ever do so. Israel has a significant number of nuclear weapons, and so does India. Those nations would use their weapons only as a last resort.
The danger during the Cold War was the result of a totalitarian power possessing large numbers of nuclear weapons. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the danger of nuclear war diminished astronomically. As North Korea increases its puny nuclear arsenal and delivery systems, the world faces real and great danger -- not because of the things (the nuclear weapons), but rather because of the people involved (tormented slaves of an erratic Eastern potentate garbed in the risible "science" of Karl Marx). The danger of fission weapons (atomic bombs), fusion weapons (hydrogen bombs), biological weapons, and chemical weapons is the malice of those who possess it. Weapons of mass destruction do not kill people; mad tyrants do.
This is precisely the disconnect which the Left faces with airport security and passenger examinations. The danger is not that someone will bring a handgun, a knife, or even an explosive on an airliner. Properly stored and maintained, none of these will do the slightest harm to anyone. In fact, if every passenger on September 11, 2001 had been armed, the terrorists would almost certainly have been stopped. Disarming the innocent never stops violence.
Moreover, the "things" which can be used to cause injury are as endless as human imagination, and in the hands of terrorists, almost anything can be used to murder large numbers of people. The variety of methods and tools of destruction are as broad as the bored minds of evil men. Anyone who has toured a prison can hear from guards about the remarkable ingenuity with which inmates can make real-looking "guns" or very real knives and other weapons.
The only way remove enough of the "things" which threaten air travel would be to strip-search every passenger, issue official garb (like inmates in prison or in a mental institution), and haul these passengers in an environment as sterile and as stark as the suicide watch cell of a county jail. We know, of course, the sane, humane, and easy way to make us safe: profile and research passengers. Before that happens, however, the Left must realize that life is full of "things" and that these are almost never the real problem. Neither the Holocaust nor the Gulag was a product of railroads and cattle cars. Those horrors were, as with the terrorists who would murder young children flying to Grandmother for Thanksgiving, the product of monsters. The way to end their evil is to defeat them.
Bruce Walker is the author of a new book: Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.