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Overreacting to threats is exactly what terrorists want us to do

Overreacting to threats is exactly what terrorists want us to do
A gate to Birmingham Community Charter High School in the adjacent neighborhood of Lake Balboa is locked with a sign stating that school is closed on Dec. 15. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

To the editor: In the United States, more than 7,000 people die daily — about 2,000 from heart and lung disease, 1,600 from cancer, more than 100 from suicide and about 160 from the flu or pneumonia. Terrorism is not a likely risk for us individually, nor is it that great a risk for the government. ("Handling of L.A. schools shutdown offers a civics lesson," Dec. 17)

In 1814, the White House and the Capitol building were burned. In 1941, we were bombed at Pearl Harbor; both incidents were attacks by foreign military forces. Presidents have been assassinated. And we have survived.

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FOR THE RECORD:

School location: A photo caption published with letters on Dec. 19 regarding the closure of Los Angeles Unified School District campuses incorrectly said Birmingham Community Charter School is in Van Nuys. In fact, that school is in the adjacent neighborhood of Lake Balboa.
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Terrorism is shocking, and the scenarios for attacks are endless — but let's be realistic about the actual risk. Our actions after 9/11 were what Al Qaeda wanted. We are doing a similar thing for Islamic State, a group that grew out of the chaos from our invasion of Iraq.

Of course we need to aggressively address the very real and dangerous threat of terrorism. But shouldn't we use our heads and not be our enemy's pawn? By succumbing to fear, we empower our enemies, lose our freedom and encourage the ugly voices in our culture.

Maybe closing all Los Angeles Unified School District campuses on Tuesday did make sense, because we never seem to learn.

David Greene, San Pedro

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To the editor: As a teacher in LAUSD, I feel much safer knowing that the school district made the decision to close the schools rather than take a risk with the lives of our children and the employees who work with them. Thanks to Supt. Ramon C. Cortines for making a tough decision in our favor.

I'm just glad I don't work in New York City, which received a similar threat but chose to keep its schools open. What would New York's leaders have said if it turned out that the threat was not a hoax? "Oops, we're sorry"?

Martha Wood, Van Nuys

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To the editor: Cortines stated that time was against him, that he had to do "something quickly" to ensure the safety of students and teachers by stopping school buses and closing schools.

The lesson of taking decisive action when confronted with a perceived danger is noteworthy. Too much analysis can lead to paralysis for putting a safety plan into effect. Cortines' military training in the Army prepared him for making good decisions to save lives and property.

Perhaps the salient words of another old war horse, Army Gen. George S. Patton, are apropos: "A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied 10 minutes later."

Tom Kaminski, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: In a post-9/11 world, the threat of terrorism is the new reality. We must be alert, but as law enforcement tells us, there is no guarantee of absolute safety for the public.

Terrorist threats will continue. When they are made, it should be agencies specializing in counterterrorism that are the ones making a decision regarding closing down key educational, economic and political institutions, not a superintendent of education who may know a lot about curriculum and pedagogy, but little about national security issues.

We should not — we cannot — be intimidated by threats to the point where we stop functioning as a society.

Nestor Fantini, Northridge

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To the editor: Terrorists say, "Jump." L.A. says, "How high?"

Steve Baker, Los Angeles 

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