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Of Deer, Terrorism, and Liberal Triumphalism
1935: A deer sticks his head inside a car looking for hand outs. (General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Of Deer, Terrorism, and Liberal Triumphalism

Walter Russell Mead

We hear from lots of smug and self-satisfied people that the ignorant American masses are too worked up about the terror threat—they should worry about real problems instead, like ill-advised provisions in North Carolina laws aimed at forcing people to use bathrooms designed for their birth gender. After all, we hear from the smug and the condescending, more people are killed by deer collisions on American roads than die by terror attacks in any given year. So why aren’t we doing more to arrest deer and send them to Gitmo, while letting the poor, misunderstood terrorists—deranged no doubt by the Islamophobia and gender discrimination so rampant in the wicked Western world—run free?

The answer most Americans would give is pretty simple: those deer aren’t huddling in the forests at night thinking of ways to raise their score for next year. They aren’t disseminating new strategies and bomb designs over the deer internet, they aren’t figuring out how to remove warning roadsigns for sharp curve ahead… they are just randomly running into cars at more or less the same rate every year.

Terrorists, on the other hand, are thinking, planning beings, and they are working every neuron in their diseased minds to figure out how to make more mayhem and kill more innocent people every year. In Belgium they were apparently trying to get hold of some nice nuclear waste from the local electric plant to spread across downtown Brussels in their next bombing run. No doubt there are others in other places planning worse, and at some point some of these plans will probably work.

Now fortunately, most of these ignorant barbarians are not very good at what they do. But it takes only a few bright, twisted minds to turn a gang of bumbling thugs into a serious threat. Those minds are out there, and they are hard at work.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., we are busy investigating our military officers for excessive fraternization while giving Marines vital training in the dangers of unconscious gender bias. It’s all fine and dandy if the core missions are getting done, but how confident are we that people who tell us we should worry about deer more than about terrorists, and who are more worried about American xenophobia than about terror gangs running rampant across bigger and bigger swatches of Planet Earth, are focusing on the real dangers as opposed to crafting beautiful new dance steps of political correctness to teach the Marines?

The world keeps getting uglier, and the American political establishment keeps getting more and more caught up in glittering fantasies and theories about inevitable liberal triumph. This is not a stable situation, and if the American political debate seems a little unhinged this year, it’s in part because a lot of Americans think the whole political class has lost its mind.

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