Anne-Marie Balbi says of the Orlando shootings that 'So intense and regular is media coverage of such incidents that the impact is being muted. The terrorists are failing in their goal of instilling fear because to feel fear we need to be human and each mass shooting diminishes our humanity.'
But if that was true, why didn't the terrorists give up long ago? There have been a number of mass-casualty atrocities in Western cities since 9/11, and each one get blanket media coverage. If this sequence was somehow degrading our sense of humanity and thus undermining the terrorists' goals, we ought to be seeing some evidence of that by now in terrorist tactics. And yet the targeting of innocent civilians persists, partly because the terrorists understand how highly we value life.
What is the evidence that humanity places ever higher value on life? Look at the enormous advances made in life expectancy in recent decades in the West and around the world. Look at the huge strides made in education, so that individuals can live meaningful and productive lives. Look at the shift in Western societies to a post-industrial economic model which puts human capital rather than machinery at the centre of production, thus increasing the economic value of life. And when jihadists see Western military forces operating in the Middle East, what do they observe? Massive investment in technology and tactics (everything from body armour to satellite-operated drones) designed to protect soldiers from harm because they are so valuable and the costs of losing them are so high.
Anne-Marie Balbi goes on to say that 'Recent events, be it hooligans at a soccer game or the bashing of atheists in Bangladesh, are proof that around the globe the normative barriers that stop people crossing the line to the use of violence are eroding.' Evidence, maybe, but proof? How does Anne-Marie reconcile her claim with the fact that deaths as a result of war have been in steady decline for decades now? What about the growing stigmatisation of racial violence and violence against women? (Just one data-point: Hillary Clinton is months away from becoming America's first female president, yet up until her mid-twenties it was not illegal in America to rape your wife.)
The reason terrorists persist with their tactics is because they see not an erosion in our care for life, but an ever-greater regard for it. We love life; that, in the eyes of terrorists, is our weakness.
Photo: Getty images/Daniel Munoz