Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Sitting Duck Syndrome — the terrorist’s real objective
If you’ve ever dined with a seasoned police officers, combat veterans or anyone who had once been the victim of “surprise violence,” you know the routine. They will insist on picking the right table and sitting in the seat with the best view — and maybe the best access to an exit. If they’ll even go into a movie theater, they’ll probably pick the back row. They never want anyone behind them. They don’t want surprises.
When they were on duty, they were prepared for violence. “Surprise violence” is what haunts them when they’re off duty.
And it can haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The people that a terrorists kill when they set off a bomb or open fire in a school, theater or shopping mall are really the secondary victims. The intended victims are the people who watch the news and experience the repeated coverage of the deadly attack. The goal is to inflict the fear of surprise violence on everyone else. The goal is to terrorize an entire population.
On July 17, 1984, I had been back from Vietnam for more than 15 years and was busy advancing a career in journalism. But on that day, “surprise violence” enveloped my world and my psyche. Nothing had happened to me directly. But on that day, a troubled man named James Oliver Huberty walked into a crowded McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California, armed with enough firepower to execute 21 customers and employees and injure 19 others.