How To Beat Terrorism
by L. Neil Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Away, way back in 1977, when I began writing my first novel, _The Probability Broach_ (still in print, after four decades), I was regarded as something of a nutcase because I argued that American society would be a much better, safer place if everybody who wanted to, carried a gun. I was by no means the first to do so, nor was I the only one at the time, but, except for Robert A. Heinlein, Elmer Keith, and the ghost of H. Beam Piper, I often felt very much alone in my simple, straightforward, common-sense advocacy of exercising one’s natural rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Now, of course, forty years later, armed self-defense has become a social movement. The degree to which I share responsibility for that is debatable, but I am proud of any part I may have had in it.
Last weekend (no, I am not changing the subject) was a pretty lousy one for peace and civil order in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Egged on by various evil shamans (one of them in the States), Islamic terrorists employed an automobile and big knives to wound and murder dozens of innocent individuals who were trying to enjoy a warm summer evening—in a near-Arctic climate that doesn’t offer many of them—and whose only “crime” was that they did not choose to follow the benighted religious precepts of a 7th century Arab merchant-trader.
For Britain, this was the third violent terrorist incident in as many months, and Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s televised response to it was completely inadequate—it may be the reason her side lost the election.. Traditionally. governments “fight” crime by limiting the freedom of the non-criminals (they’re easier to control than the criminals) they rule and stealing their possessions. Decades ago, a stated objective of terrorist groups like the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof Gang was to goad politicians into making life so miserable for ordinary people that they would eventually revolt. The only difference is that secular terrorists in the 60s and 70s wanted a communist revolution, while terrorists today wish to establish a Caliphate, under Shariah law. May was nothing, if not traditionally conservative, promising to hire and arm more uniforms, and even more stupidly, to attempt to cut off communications among jihadis by limiting everybody’s freedom on the Internet.
Her worthless words were echoed and amplified by countless empty-skulled Hollywood types who used the occasion of slaughter to lecture potential victims that guns in private hands are naughty and unfashionable. It won’t work, of course. That sort of nonsense never does. And it accomplishes the terrorists’ objective for them by reducing the quality of everybody’s life (except for rich Hollywood types) and increasing their hatred for the government. The killers will go on scheming and hatching their plots—by carrier pigeon, if need be—until the next atrocity gives Leviathan a credible excuse to reduce freedom even further.
Some careful thought is required, instead of the usual government knee-jerky bluster and Beverly Hills blather. I commend you attention to Eric Frank Russell’s great work, _W.A.S.P,_. Terrorism’s great advantage it that it is diffuse in nature. It can happen any time, anywhere. It can manifest itself in a huge explosion, or simply a lit match. It can be carried out by two dozen jihadis or by a single individual. It is waged, not against the state directly, but against everyday, individual people. Vast armies and equipment like tanks and fighter planes are of no use against it, it is too diffuse to fight that way. A diffuse threat calls for a diffuse response.
I’ll repeat that, because it’s what this essay is really all about. A diffuse threat calls for a diffuse response.
In the United States, at about the same time that communist gangs were kidnapping, murdering, and blowing things up, good old American disorganized crime was running rampant. When I was a Reserve police officer in the early 1970s, it was estimated that, sometime in their lives, one out of three people would become a victim of mugging, burglary, or rape. Despite the “advice” of established authority, people began arming themselves. In a mostly face-saving effort, concealed carry permits became available. Crime began to diminish in double digits. States are being pressed now to eliminate the requirement for a permit, the Feds are considering national reciprocity, and the trend toward domestic tranquility continues. Violent crime is a diffuse problem, much the same as religious or political terrorism. Universal (some say “Constitutional”) weapons carry is the diffuse solution called for.
At bottom, violent criminals are cowardly bullies, looking for a soft mark and an easy victory. If the “average” terrorist faced a high-percentage probability that his intended victims—especially females—were prepared to humiliate him by fighting back, it wouldn’t matter how many imaginary virgins he was offered, he’d find other means to express his divine fervor. On the other hand, tf the average citizen carried only a small .38 revolver or .380 automatic in purse or pocket, easily hidden, lightweight, handlble, the shape of the world we live in would change. It wouldn’t solve every problem associated with terrorism, it would just solve most of them.
Somebody once wisely observed that you can’t fight an idea with guns and bombs, but only with a better idea. One reason we are still having problems with communism—in North Korea, China, Venezuela, and our college campuses—is that we have been trying to fight it, since 1917, with guns and bombs. There are many better ideas than communism, but its strongest advocates, the American mass media, won’t permit them to be discussed.
Much the same is true of Islam, only moreso. It is a belief-system almost entirely rooted in fear and ignorance, and has many vulnerabilities. A full, open, and public discussion of it would destroy it utterly, but its advocates are afraid to permit that, turning instead to Molotov cocktails, submachine guns, and large knives. Failing that full, open, and public discussion, a book should be produced that could change the course of history.
When I was a young man, classified ads in Reason magazine and elsewhere offered a publication called “100 Biblical Contradictions”. The book I have in mind for Islam would be similar to that, short, plain paragraphs mostly asking dangerous questions. It would be small enough to fit into a jacket or jeans pocket, and durable, like a Langenscheidt’s foreign language dictionary. It could be air-dropped by the hundreds of thousands where it would do the most good—Syria, Iran, Michigan—and audio recordings could be made available to the many—especially Muslim women—who can’t read.
I would borrow a leaf from Heinlein and call it by the Arabic word for Doubt. It would be more powerful than the Father of the “Mother Of All Bombs”.
The trouble with it, and the reason such a book will likely never be produced, is that it would be fully as destructive to other mystical and irrational belief systems, to Christianity and Judaism, among others—all of which are based on faith (which Mark Twain or someone once said means “believing in something you know damn well ain’t so”) as it would be to Islam. Joseph Farah and Glenn Beck and Franklin Graham would all freak out. Of course, there are individuals I’ve known—Christians, Jews, Muslims, and quite a few Buddhists—whose belief is gentle and strong enough to withstand what should be in Doubt, but not a majority.
It would appear that most human beings believe, without examination, whatever their parents and leaders and Hollywood balloon-heads want them to believe. So much for advancing the human condition.
Publisher and Senior Columnist L. Neil Smith is the author of over thirty books, mostly science fiction novels, He has been a libertarian activist since 1962. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at _L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE_ “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essay was originally prepared for and appeared i n _L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE_. Use it to fight the continuing war against tyranny.
Sir, I have a Judicial Review application with the Government now asserting my right to RKBA. They have asked for more time to respond to my skeleton argument. They have until 20/6/17 to respond else the application goes to the HIGH COURT.
1) Ok, print the book, air-drop it on the Muslims – but how are you going to get them to read it?
2) My wife’s family is Swiss; her brother had to do a stint of military service each year, and was required to keep a rifle at home at all times, for the defence of the country.
3) You say “It would appear that most human beings believe, without examination, whatever their parents and leaders and Hollywood balloon-heads want them to believe.”
Well, EVERYBODY believes what their parents tell them. Somewhere on the journey from childhood to maturity we realise that our parents might be wrong about some things – especially religion – and we make up our own minds.
I must say I find it odd that ALL Muslims seem to just swallow all their nonsenical religious teachings absolutely unquestioningly.
4) The only thing that Muslims truly fear is pigs. If I were dictator, I would immediately bring in a law that Islamic terrorists would be buried (executed first if need be) wrapped in the skin of a pig. Or at least with a pork suasage stuffed up their bottom.
This essay is a decent read and the second comment point 4. funny but absolutely correct.
My reasoning is simple. Common Law is the target of this ideology and other ideologies, why? The people have true liberty and cannot be subdued. The problem with Islam is the trilogy, Islam is not just the Quran it is the sira and hadith combined. Mr Smith is correct about firearms without doubt as I have studied this issue in depth.
First: Let us take firearms and the reduction in crime. Who loses? The state, the legal system, the prisons, the police, in fact, the whole “criminal” industry. The very people that advocate the removal of Guns from the public even though some know the truth. More Guns, Less Crime.
Second: This is an ideology, that has a phobia of three things 1. Pigs 2. Kafirs 3. Apostates. We can not deal with these problems in the UK unless we arm the people, in particular under our Bill of Rights 1688/9 the Right to Bear Arms for English and Protestants. That right was “treatied” because another religion with similar tendencies ‘at the time” global domination were attacking the Church of England. Protestants. The odd thing is, an English Protestant cannot be armed under our current unlawful statute whilst a Sikh may carry a kirpan (a weapon of defence). That aside, guns will not stop bombs. No, but with between 400k and 1m (out of 4m) Muslims that are orthodox Muslims our Army and Police combined could not deal with the suggestion above at point 4. The backlash would be catastrophic. So, if 5, 10, 20m Protestants were armed, including women (if a woman kills a Muslim man he will NOT enter paradise) then, we take the remains of a bomber and bury him or her with pigs blood and offal. We publicise that fact. The ammunition with our arms should include some form of pig ingredient. This ensures the right mix of ‘deterrent” to those who may consider riotous behaviour.
The next step is simple. Remove the Sharia Courts as they are unlawful under the English constitution.
Then remove all Mosques until such time as reformation and the building of churches take place is Mecca.
We then remove all benefits from this ideology, £8 Billion a year. They will simply decide to leave.
Thirdly: Hitler had a very close association with the Mufti of Jerusalem. The SS had two divisions 21st and 13th of Islamic Jihadists. Just like ISIS they were ruthless animals and raped, murdered and buggered their way through Italy and Serbia.
Today, Germany has invited 1.5m young fighting men into their Country. A foreign legion. England and Common Law is under attack.
We need firearms to protect us and others to the continuance of WW2 via the EU a Nazi concept.
Sorry for the long comment.
Just to add, Mr Smith is also correct. The truth can be outed ONCE we are armed. Yes, it will work, yes, people will leave (become apostates) once WE protect them from Islam. Apostasy and criticism of Islam or the Prophet is a mandatory death sentence. Remember, Taqiya is the ability to lie if it furthers Islam. remember also, that Muslims do not slaughter Muslims, they excommunicate them first via Takfir. Don’t be conned!
“The odd thing is, an English Protestant cannot be armed under our current unlawful statute whilst a Sikh may carry a kirpan (a weapon of defence).”
And Sikhs may ride a motorcycle without a crash helmet. Much as I love and admire the Sikhs, this is wrong. A retired maths teacher name of Fred Hill back in the 70’s protested that he had to wear a crash helmet while Sikhs did not. He was fined mutliple times for refusing to wear a helmet on his Honda 90, and jailed many times for refusing to pay the fine. He died in Pentonville jail.
I don’t care if Sikhs are allowed an exception to ride without a crash helmet. The law is there to impose a minimum standard, and it’s not a great imposition. The requirement is evidence-based, and also based in common-sense: nobody in their right mind would deviate from it, since it’s obvious that you will fall off your motorbike from time-to-time and wearing a helmet will protect you from, or at least reduce, serious injury. If Sikhs want an exception, I’m not going to stand in their way, but it is just an exception, not a privilege, since there is no advantage to be gained by riding a motorcycle while wearing a turban instead of a crash helmet. It’s a little like saying: “I’m a Sikh, so I’ll do without the emergency chute on my next parachute jump. I can assure you, it’s for religious reasons”. My reaction to that is: OK, as long as you’re not harming me, be my guest, do without the additional protection. If I have a traffic accident with you and the inquest finds you died because you were wearing a turban instead of a crash helmet, then that was your own stupid fault, I needn’t worry.
I can see the point being made by people like Fred Smith, and obviously I respect somebody who makes these sacrifices for their beliefs, but the objection seems to be based on simply an abstract argument. His complaint wasn’t about the exception given to Sikhs, which just added impetus to his campaign, nor was he (as far as I can see) complaining about the safety of motorcycle helmets, rather he objected to helmets as a general requirement. I agree that it is a breach of civil liberty, but realistically, it’s not the best issue on which to hang your banner. It’s certainly not something he should have been willing to go to prison for.
The knives issue is different, because simply carrying a knife does not normally imply anything about somebody’s intent. That’s why I agree the law is wrong, but there again the issue isn’t that there is an exception for Sikhs – there isn’t, the exception applies to any religious group. The real issue, as I see it, is the criminalisation of a behaviour that isn’t actually criminal. If I want to carry knives, I should be allowed to do so, for any reason or no reason. (If I am carrying with criminal intent, there are already laws to deal with that).
Normally I would confine myself to saying I disagree with you, but on a number of points in your argument I can safely say you are completely wrong.
Let’s start with this; “The law is there to impose a minimum standard, and it’s not a great imposition…”
No, that is NOT why the law is there. The sole reason we have laws at all is to protect the law-abiding majority from the actions of the criminal minority. Or rather that WAS the case, until the crash helmet law came in (and it cannot be co-incidence that its introduction co-incided with our joining the EEC). This law broke new ground, in that it was, to the best of my knowledge, the first time ever in the history of the universe that a law had been brought in to protect adults from the consequences of their own actions.
And the requirement to wear a crash helmet absolutely IS a great imposition. At least I think it is. And so do all the other members of the The Motorcycle Action Group, which was formed specifically to fight for that very principle. Florida (where I sometimes reside) is different. They did have a compulsory helmet law, but it was abolished, in response to public pressure. That is the difference between the UK and the US. In Britain, public pressure counts for nothing. We have learned to just do as we’re told. In America, it’s the legislators who do as they’re told.
Next; ” The requirement is evidence-based, and also based in common-sense: nobody in their right mind would deviate from it, since it’s obvious that you will fall off your motorbike from time-to-time and wearing a helmet will protect you from, or at least reduce, serious injury. .”
No it isn’t ‘evidence-based’. What evidence? Motorcycle deaths went down in Florida after the law was abolished. On the same princple that gun deaths went up in this country after guns were ‘banned’.
And who are you to judge whether an individual is “in his right mind” or not, simply because he does something that you don’t consider sensible? I don’t generally wear a helmet in Florida. Maybe in Miami, but most of the time not. It’s my head, my choice. And if you think “it’s obvious that you will fall off your motorbike from time-to-time”, I can only conclude that you do not ride a motorcycle, or if you do, you are not very good at it. I’ve managed to keep all my bikes rubber side down for fifty years. You do learn a sense of survival on two wheels – it’s part of the challenge.
“I can see the point being made by people like Fred Smith, and obviously I respect somebody who makes these sacrifices for their beliefs, but the objection seems to be based on simply an abstract argument. His complaint wasn’t about the exception given to Sikhs,…”
Again you are quite wrong – Fred Hill’s objection was precisely and unequivocally that Sikhs were exempt from a law that he was obliged to obey. (It’s Fred Hill, by the way, not Fred Smith). He is celebrated still by motorcyclists as a freedom fighter, although he was (predictably) denounced as a racist (might even have been a ‘racialist’ back then) because he felt, as do I, that the law should apply equally to all; to the Duke as to the dustman; to the Sikh as to the Anglican.
As a general observation, I do find it odd that anybody writing on a Libertarian page should be advocating a law to prevent people doing something purely on the grounds that they might hurt themselves doing it. What should we ban next? Sky-diving? Boxing? Mountaineering? Health and Safety rules!
Hugo, as usual, you’ve responded not to what I have said, but to what you choose to read into what I have said.
(i). The purpose of the law is to impose a minimum safety standard. I am talking about the purpose of that law, I am not writing a philosophical treatise on the purpose of jurisprudence, a topic that isn’t germane.
(ii). The policy on motorcycle helmets is evidence-based. Whether the evidence is sound is another matter. I am not qualified or expert enough, nor interested enough, to comment – you, evidently, have your own view – but the policy is nevertheless evidence-based. So my point stands.
(iii). Fred Hill’s objection to mandatory crash helmets pre-dated the exception granted for Sikhs and only added impetus to his campaign. His objection wasn’t to the exception itself, and in fact my understanding is that he was at great pains to emphasise that, rather it was to the general requirement. He was indeed denounced as racist by some, because he made a great issue of the Sikh exception at times in support of his case, but he wasn’t attacking the exception, just pointing to it in support of what he saw as the wrongness of a general requirement.
(iv). You also haven’t explained how the exception is of benefit to Sikhs compared to other motorcyclists. That should be simple enough for you to clarify. If it’s that you think helmets are dangerous, then that’s one argument; if you just think that everybody should be free to make a choice, that’s another argument. The former position depends on evidence, the latter is just an abstract argument.
The rest of what you say seems to be about addressing the issue in the abstract. As I have already explained, I view the matter pragmatically. I don’t like state intervention in behaviour, but I also recognise that it is not always without good reason. We can argue over the abstract basis of it, and we could also argue over the reasons, but I don’t have enough interest in the issue to do so here at any length.
You then go on to question whether I also support a ban on sky-diving, boxing or mountaineering. I don’t see the relevance. These anyway are very different activities from motorcycling, which takes place on public roads, and it should also be noted that the law does mandate safety precautions in certain regulations where those activities are undertaken on an organised basis.
Finally, you say I am advocating for this law. I’m not. I have little or no interest in the matter either way. I think the requirement for crash helmets is a good idea, and should I decide to ride a motorbike, I will wear one, but that doesn’t make me an “advocate” for one law or another. It is also not for you to police my views or those of other people, nor to tell me what I should say or not say on a libertarian forum.
With respect, I am careful always respond to your points by first quoting them from your text, so I’m not sure why you say I have responded, not to what you said, but ” but to what you choose to read into what I have said.”
Again, with respect, I would suggest that it is you who have failed to respond to MY points, so I will re-iterate some of them as follows, keeping to your paragraph numbers;
(i) I explained that the helmet law was the first time ever that the criminal law had been used to protect adults from the consequences of their own actions. This marked the birth of the ‘nanny State’, and was clearly a test bed for the seatbelt law, which followed shortly afterwards. I am told that Enoch Powell pointed out the EEC origins of these laws.
This seems to me to be a remarkable departure from established traditions, and marks the birth of a whole new relationship between citizen and State. It is now their job to protect us, as though we were children, from the consequences of our own actions. It appears from your writings that you think it’s a good idea for the State to prevent you from doing anything stupid. I do not. I want the State to leave me alone. I would value your comments.
(ii) “The policy on motorcycle helmets is evidence-based.” My response was “What evidence?” Well? Where is the evidence? Would you care to respond?
(iii) Interesting that you are now an authority on Fred Hill’s campaign, when yesterday you couldn’t even get his name right. Once again I have to contradict you on the facts, which are as follows; I’m sure Fred Hill objected to the compulsion element of the crash helmet law every bit as much as I do and more. But he nonetheless complied with the law when it was introduced. His campaign of civil disobedience did not begin until three years later, in 1976, when Sikhs were granted an exemption from the law. That is when he stopped wearing a helmet and refusing to pay the resulting fines, being jailed a total of 31 times in the eight years till his death in Pentonville jail. The reason he adopted such an extreme course of action was because of the vital principle (at least he believed and I believe it is vital – clearly you do not) that the law should be applied equally to everybody.
Once again, don’t take my word for it – please check out the MAG website; http://wadmag.mag-uk.org/fred_hill.htm . MAG was founded to honour the principles for which Fred Hill fought. Here is a quote from their site;
“Fred’s involvement with MAG and the anti helmet law campaign began in 1976 after the Sikhs gained an exemption from the law. There were those at the time who were uncertain about Fred’s motivation, fearing that it might be racist, born of the resentment that an immigrant minority were enjoying preferential treatment. Those who met Fred, heard his speeches, and got to know him a little, were re-assured that this was not the case. If Sikhs did not have to wear helmets then nobody should have to although he rarely ever made any reference to the Sikhs’ preferential treatment.”
I cannot leave the tale of Fred Hill without observing that the media totally ignored the story at the time, with the notable exception of Woodrow Wyatt. Why do you think that was? Surely a story like that would be news-worthy?
(iv) “You also haven’t explained how the exception is of benefit to Sikhs compared to other motorcyclists. ..”
I didn’t say it was of benefit to Sikhs. Sikhs are unaffected by the helmet law, since it does not apply to them. I said the law was an imposition on the rest of us who ride motorcycles and who are not followers of that religion.
Now on to your general points; “I don’t like state intervention in behaviour, but I also recognise that it is not always without good reason. …”
Well, of course it’s always “for our own good”, isn’t it? I do not find that a persuasive argument, and I will say again that I am surprised that anyone writing on a Libertarian site would think it is.
“You then go on to question whether I also support a ban on sky-diving, boxing or mountaineering. I don’t see the relevance.”
Those were rhetorical points!
“… It is also not for you to police my views or those of other people, nor to tell me what I should say or not say on a libertarian forum….”
I’m not sure how you think I was “policing” your views. I am interested to hear your views, and I find it frustrating that whenever I ask you to elaborate you are reluctant to do so. Your tendency is to clam up and say your too busy or whatever.
And finally, I don’t think you will find me anywhere telling you what you should or should not say, on this forum or anywhere else. My commitment to freedom of speech is absolute. I just said I found it odd that you should be expressing support for the Nanny State on a Libertarian forum.
In my view, the right to bear arms should apply only to English people: this is our inherited right, after all. It should not apply to the Pakis!