Keep Calm, but Do Something

Article/Op-Ed in Slate
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July 17, 2017

Yascha Mounk wrote about our new, confusing nonchalance in the face of terror attacks for Slate's The Good Fight.

In politics, you not only have to take into account what the world would look like if everybody followed your lead—but also consider what might transpire if, as is overwhelmingly likely, you are unable to convince a large share of the population of your point of view. It is certainly wonderful that many people are inclined to do their best to shrug off the terrorist attacks. In my own life, I try to do the same. But to be politically responsible, our proud display of indifference also has to take into account the larger social response to this precarious political moment. We need to ask not only what response would work best if everybody took terrorist attacks in stride but also which response is likely to keep the social peace in the world as it actually exists. And once we do so, a strategy of nonchalance starts to look no more convincing than a strategy of hyperventilation.
I’m genuinely confused to what extent we should just Keep Calm and Carry a Pint. I’m genuinely confused whether defending our values requires us to be more or less obsessed with stopping terrorism. But here’s the thing: The near-constant threat of terrorist attacks in the hearts of the major capitals of North America and Western Europe—perpetrated by groups that are identified with what, in most of these countries, is the biggest and least popular religious minority—is likely to transform our societies in ways we cannot yet predict.
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