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Milgrim’s Speech

August 10, 2008

“A nation,” he heard himself say, “consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual’s morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn’t a nation.”

“Are you really so scared of terrorists that you’ll dismantle the structures that made America what it is?”

“If you are, you let the terrorist win. Because that is exactly, specifically, his goal, his only goal: to frighten you into surrendering the rule of law. That’s why they call him ‘terrorist.’ He uses terrifying threats to induce you to degrade your own society.”

“It’s based on the same glitch in human psychology that allows people to believe they can win the lottery. Statistically, almost nobody ever wins the lottery. Statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen.”

—from Spook Country by William Gibson, chapter 29, with interstitial material elided

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