Steve Coll thinks this is a teachable moment:
Anyone who tries to set a vehicle on fire in Times Square on a warm Saturday night is going to make news in a big way. Presumably that was the primary goal of the perpetratorsto attract attention, to spawn fear. The very amateurishness of the attackunlike the Christmas Day attack, for example, it does not immediately call into question the competence of the government’s defensesoffers President Obama the opportunity to start talking back to terrorists everywhere in a more resilient, sustainable language than he has yet discovered. By which I mean: They intend to frighten us; we are not frightened. They intend to kill and maim; we will bring them to justice. They intend to attract attention for their extremist views; the indiscriminate nature of their violence only discredits and isolates them. They intend to disrupt us and throw us into fits of media-saturated hysteria; we will remain vigilant, but we will also keep their unsuccessful attempted murder in perspective. Something like that.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.