A reader writes:
You and your reader are precisely right. But more to the point, the American approach of hyperbolizing the threat not only unnecessarily (and cynically) terrifies the public thereby achieving the terrorists’ aims for them it also elevates the perpetrators into potential heroes for those Muslims who would imitate them. Instead, we should be denigrating them as the clowns they are.
The effective response is not to declare every kook with a pipe-bomb-dream an existential threat to the country’s survival. They aren’t. The proper response is ridicule. Nothing can deflate the would-be terrorists’ pretensions to power than more embarrassments like this past weekend. Every time they are stopped, the mantra should not be "What’s coming next?" but rather "Seriously. What a bunch of losers."
It's one thing to die walking in the shoes of Saladin. But who wants to blow themselves to bits only to be written off as an ineffective fool? They want to be warriors of God. Don't encourage them by overstating the threat. Expose them as the petulant failures they are. The best way to fight the viral nature of this stuff is not by making it an epic battle but by making it a mundane one.
Can they do damage? Yes, though a gun or two would probably be more effective and efficient than these duct tape and chewing gum contraptions they failed to set off this past weekend. Let's not abase ourselves by putting them on par with Hitler and stoking their sadism and megalomania. They are clowns. Laugh at them.