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Stoking a climate of fear

In his column last Saturday (“The false choice between security and civil liberties,” Op-ed), Lawrence Harmon wrote, “It is crazy to allow people to enter crowded movie theaters and other entertainment venues without bag inspections.” Apparently he wrote it with a straight face. But did he really think about what he was writing, or did it sound so obviously true that he assumed no one could possibly disagree?

He writes, “Nearly 8,000 people were killed . . . in surface transportation attacks around the world from 1970 to 2012,” a 42-year period. During the same period, more than 1.6 million people died in traffic accidents in the United States alone. More than 960,000 died from influenza.

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Harmon concludes his column with the statement: “The odds of more terror attacks are greater than the odds of losing our essential freedoms.” Shouldn’t we concentrate on trying to mitigate the real hazards of life? Bag inspections will have no real effect other than to remind us that we are supposed to be afraid.

“Americans refuse to be terrorized,” President Obama said following the bombings of April 15. I commend the president’s words to Harmon.

George Mitchell

Hyde Park

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