Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Not afraid

I'm not sure what to make of a new web site called We’re not afraid! Created only five days ago in the wake of the London bombings, it seems to have struck a chord. People from all over the world are submitting pictures to the site with some sort of tag line asserting they are not afraid.

In typical fashion, though, the New York Times is dismissive of the whole exercise (registration required).

The site displays a range of defiant postures. Some people hold up their middle fingers, presumably for the terrorists to see. Some people posted pictures of American soldiers, presumably for Londoners and Americans to see.

But more and more, there's a brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure. Yesterday there were lots of pictures posted of smiling families at the beach and of people showing off their cars and vans. A picture from Italy shows a white sports car and comes with the caption: "Afraid? Why should we be afraid?"

A few days ago, We're Not Afraid might have been a comfort. Today, there's a hint of "What, me worry?" from Mad magazine days, but without the humor or the sarcasm. We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots.

But in face of such amorphous threats, what can we really do? Are we to stop living and cower in our basements? Are we to apologize for who we are?

And what's this about "have-nots?" We have been through this before. The majority of the 9-11 bombers were upper-middle class Saudis. Of course that inconvenient fact does not stop the New York Times from attempting to transform the London terrorist bombings into a class war.

While perhaps not the "root cause" behind the evident Islamist hatred of the West, we should consider whether such self-flagellation is a contributing factor. In blaming ourselves, we are in effect absolving the perpetrators of these inhuman acts of any responsibility.

Somehow, I do not think blaming ourselves will persuade the terrorists to stop. So maybe these people have it right. Defiance is a better strategy. If we show our fear, the terrorists have won.

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