Leaving the agency in 2004 and getting my information through the media (traditional and social) has been the intellectual equivalent of running out of a sauna and rolling in the snow. People make the most incendiary, irresponsible claims as if stating indisputable facts. Hardly anyone will tell you where they got their information. Repetition and volume try to take the place of verification.
Such an atmosphere can quickly turn poisonous in the wake of a terrorist attack. Anti-Muslim groups adopt the mindset of the terrorists and become their mirror image. A presidential candidate provides material for terrorist recruitment videos.
It is never a good idea to do what the terrorists want you to do, yet so many people are doing exactly that. The goal of terrorist groups is not simply to kill people but to influence their target group.