I sent this in to The Star on 8 January 2007. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been printed. So here I present it to you:
One night as I cowered under a blanket with no insecticide spray to save me, I was hit by this realization: Terrorists are very much like mosquitos!
Compared to me, mosquitos are tiny and can hardly injure me. But their bites are annoyingly itchy, so I try to swat them. I could easily crush them, but first I have to find and catch them. So in order to avoid being bitten, I have to cover up my whole body, which is hot and restrictive.
Compared to a full-fledged country, terrorists are mere individuals. Their acts of terror could hardly topple the nation, but the government has to act to protect its citizens. A vast national military could easily wipe out the terrorists and their camps, but first they must identify and locate the enemy. So in order to avoid terrorist attacks, airport baggage must be screened, travel must be restricted and other freedoms must be sacrificed.
Sure, we can spray individual mosquitos as they appear every night. But in order to solve the problem, we must go to the source. We must clean up clogged drains and clear up stagnant ponds. Without suitable breeding grounds, the mosquito population will significantly decrease.
Civilized nations can investigate, arrest and imprison individual terrorists as they appear to wreak havoc. But in order to solve the problem, they must go to the source. Drain the financial resources funding terrorism, clean up the acts of countries that support them and do not tolerate any rhetoric that will encourage them.
It would be laughable if I told you that I’d decided to ‘appease’ the mosquitos. That rather than swatting and spraying them, I’ll make peace by giving in to their demands for my blood. That I’ll run and hide and abandon my whole way of life at the merest buzz of wings.
It wouldn’t work – I’d just be selling myself out. The mosquitos will hunt me down and force me to give more and more blood, spawning new generations of mosquitos who will repeat the cycle.
Isn’t it just as ludicrous for lawful and peace-loving nations to give in to the demands and threats of violent, selfish men?