In the long thread on 9/11 I made a comment which I thought was worth putting in a post of its own. Here it is:
As a general rule, "Bad people might hurt us if we do this" is a reason against doing X that should be handled with great care. Applied too frequently, it provides a perfect road to fatal weakness, to giving in to extortion and to every demand of bullies. Paying Danegeld was not a good idea strategically anymore than in any other sense.
Generally people bring up this reason only when they already strongly disapprove of an action on some independent grounds. In that case, the argument should be made on the independent grounds.
Nor does the action have to be strictly necessary in order for us to question the use of this argument. For example, it is not strictly necessary for any of us to write posts for this blog criticizing any of the tenets of Islam, for Christians to preach the Gospel in any particular case, or, for that matter, for leftists to criticize American foreign policy. Yet leftists would surely be outraged if there were some pro-military terrorist group that would be enraged if they criticized U.S. foreign policy and if they were told that they have a duty to stop doing so in order to avoid the anger of this terrorist group. And so on. Many actions that are not necessary in any given case should nonetheless be done by someone at some time or other, and if we submit to a rule that allows bullies to veto the acts in each individual case, we will stifle our freedom, our civic health, and our country's character altogether by the application of the rule.
Apropos of which, the Acts 17 missionaries go on trial tomorrow in Dearborn. The judge did not dismiss the charges, not even against Negeen Mayel who was merely videotaping from a distance. It appears that the trial will partly turn on the testimony of one Roger Williams; I imagine the lawyers for Acts 17 are eagerly anticipating cross-questioning him. As readers of W4 know, the Acts 17 missionaries committed the provocative and unnecessary act of discussing the deity of Jesus Christ with Muslims on videotape during an Arab festival.