There’s no need to respond like the US did

When the news about the Mumbai blasts was still coming in, you could tune in to different channels and hear someone or the other saying that this was like 9/11 for India. People also brought up the fact that the US has not been attacked since 9/11 and that it is a safer place; the reasoning being that we should follow their lead to respond to terrorism.

I say thanks, but no thanks. While the US Government did a few good things, it also got away with some scary stuff because of the fear that was prevalent after the attacks: Guantanemo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the Patriot act, waterboarding, renditions, and widespread domestic spying to name a few.

So, while there is a need to make some changes, we should not blindly follow the US’s example or indeed anyone else’s. Also, keep in mind that our freedom and our right to privacy are precious and we shouldn’t let anyone trample on those rights.

David Foster Wallace, in a thought-provoking piece for The Atlantic, wrote:

Is monstrousness why no serious public figure now will speak of the delusory trade-off of liberty for safety that Ben Franklin warned about more than 200 years ago? What exactly has changed between Franklin’s time and ours? Why now can we not have a serious national conversation about sacrifice, the inevitability of sacrifice—either of (a) some portion of safety or (b) some portion of the rights and protections that make the American idea so incalculably precious?

In India, we too need a national conversation about our reaction to the Mumbai attacks (and other terrorist attacks) and about what we are willing to sacrifice in order to be safe.

Consider this: you would be reasonably safe (against acts of terrorism) if you barricaded yourself in your home and refused to step outside. But, what kind of life would that be? An extreme example, but that’s the kind of life we’d be going towards if we give up our civil liberties.

So, let’s not.

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