I realize this is self-indulgent, but (from a Q&A with your friend Dana Milbank, whose recent piece on the response to terrorism was actually quite good):
Blue Rock, MT: With all due respect, Mr. Milbank, should anyone really be laughing about terrorism? Did people laugh about Pearl Harbor? Did people laugh about the battle of Stalingrad?
In Muslim cultures, laughter is a sign of weakness. By mocking the man who tried to set off the dirty bomb on that flight, we give comfort to our enemies. What will it take to make people like you understand this? A second Caliphate?
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
I am intrigued by this notion of laughter-as-weakness. Admittedly, if you laugh in a “tee-hee” kind of way, that could be seen as a sign of weakness, but I think a solid guffaw is a show of strength. I believe in power laughter.
Palo Cedro, Calif.: If terrorists aim to cause terror, aren’t Dick and Liz Cheney aiding them with their constant fear mongering? I think laughing at al Qaeda makes much more tactical sense.
Well, I would have agreed with you before that previous questioner said that laughter is a sign of weakness in the Muslim world. So this puts the Cheneys’ strategy in a new light: Perhaps they are issuing these statements in hopes of making the Qaeda leadership laugh. This, in turn, would cause the Qaeda leadership to be perceived as weak in the Muslim world, thus undermining their effectiveness. It is a brilliant strategy, really.
(I’m Blue Rock but not Palo Cedro.)