Bruce Schneier spells it out:
I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.In other words, terrorism is theater; what they do isn't their goal; it's an act that is intended to provoke an emotional response in the audience. And we the audience are overreacting just like the terrorists want. They don't even have to blow anything up to get us to take off our shoes, leave our toothpaste at home, and snitch on our fellow passengers for looking different from us.
The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.
What the Terrorists Want, Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, August 24, 2006
And don't forget that even if they had actually succeeded in blowing up a dozen airliners over the Atlantic, air travel would still be safer than driving! Also don't forget that a determined suicide terrorist isn't going to be stopped by all the security at airports: one of the British plotters was an airport employee with an all-areas pass. And a suicide bomber won't stop at swallowing the bomb before boarding.
What should we be doing instead? Stop being so scared! There are a billion Muslims in the world, and they're not all out to get us, or we'd all be dead. Pick whatever other religion or ethnic group you're scared of, and it's probably smaller, but probably most of its members are not out to get us, either. Not only that, but some of them are us! Letting the terrorists divide us is letting the terrorists win.
Insist on real security, instead of security theater. I previously posted a longish list of specific things that can be done, and I'm sure there are plenty more.
Right behind "don't be scared" however is "don't be fooled into giving up civil liberties". We got through WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Gulf War I, and Somalia without throwing out habeus corpus, holding people without charges, or institutionalizing torture. Yes, there were some excesses during WW II, such as interning Japanese-Americans, but we now know those were both wrong and unnecessary.
We are under less threat now than we were then. If we give up our own liberties because we're scared, the terrorist producers must already be in terrorist paradise. Instead of being scared of them bombing us, why not let their play bomb?
Is it better risk management to keep buying your competitor's product, or to keep producing your own?