Now....while the idea has often occurred to me that the people of the USA, in general, over-react - tend towards a communal paranoia on several fronts, and display a definite tendency to hyperbole on all fronts, I'd never categorised this as anything resembling cowardice, as implied in the articles I read. Take Stephen Pizzo's piece at Smirking Chimp, for instance. In referring to The Patriot Act:
Be Ashamed, Americans
Who gave them the right to do that? Well, we did. Yes we did.
In the flash, 9/11 turned cocky, self-satisfied Americans into a mob of scared school girls. We went screaming to "Daddy" demanding to be kept safe from "terrorists." Spare us the details, we said, and just get-et done, we demanded.
Stop for a moment and compare that response to how the Brits responded to years of terror weapons raining down on their cities during WW II.
"Starting on 7 September 1940, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, almost half of them in London. Ports and industrial centres outside London were also heavily attacked; the major Atlantic sea port of Liverpool was the most heavily bombed city outside London, suffering nearly 4,000 dead."
Americans had never felt such a blow. But, unlike the Brits who, rather than panic, stood up, strapped on a pair, and just kept on keeping on, we freaked out after 9/11. Three jets, a two buildings and 3000 dead, and we went to pieces.
Be ashamed, Americans. Be very ashamed. One attack, tiny by comparison, and our first response is to offer up our freedoms in return for protection.
And so came the Patriot Act; likely the most un-American piece of legislation ever passed by Congress and signed into law by an American president. It was slapped together by panicked government employees, passed by politicians who were far more terrified of their terrified constituents than they were of actual terrorists, and signed into law by the dumbest man ever to serve in the Oval Office.
We did that. Because we let them do that.
An English commenter (L. Harrison) agreed, and adds information about the devastation of the city of Plymouth during WW 2. I'm eligible to add my own views on this. I was born in Hull, a busy east coast port which also came in for blitzing by the Luftwaffe. We never knew from one morning to the next whether we'd still be around, or whether the house next door might be a pile of rubble, especially as we lived near a park with a large boating lake, which was often mistaken by German pilots for the docks, and they sometimes dropped their bombs not far from our doorstep. I was a very young child -just a baby at the start of it all, so have only fragmented memories, but do remember seeing the devastation downtown in the city centre, later on.
It's as though initial hyperbolic over-reaction and paranoia moves on to dip to the other, more dangerous extreme: apathy.