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Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan got her dander up a little while ago about the phrase "to let the terrorists win," as in, "If we don't get our nails done, then we've let the terrorists win." She insisted this phrase had been used 826 times in print since the Sept. 11 attacks, making it "the most overused and annoying cliche of these difficult days."

We don't know where Eagan's getting her numbers. We spent 20 minutes looking and could find only 343 examples, from which the following were distilled. But putting aside Eagan's reckless use of statistics, we think she may be onto something.

Going to the movies doesn't bring back the murdered, and staying home doesn't help Osama bin Laden. What if the reason we're staying home is to play with our children because life's too short to waste two hours watching Ben Stiller make fun of male models? Just how is that a win for the terrorists?

If we get our priorities straight, have the terrorists won then, too?

_ BILL DURYEA, Times staff writer

"If we don't manage our fear, the terrorists have won. If I don't fly, ride the subway or go over bridges, they've won."

_ The Rev. Calvin Butts, senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, speaking at a Methodist service in lower Manhattan Sept. 19.

"Some may think that if I have to sell my Lincoln Navigator, then the terrorists have won."

_ Karl Brauer, editor in chief of the automotive Web site Edmunds.com, expressing his steadfast belief in conspicuous consumption Oct. 10 in a column by Froma Harrop.

"After all, life must go on or the terrorists have won."

_ From a Sept. 28 column by Clarence Page, referring to the advent of "apocalypse sex" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We have to carry on or the terrorists win."

_ Elite runner Colleen De Reuck, speaking before the New York Marathon Nov. 4.

"I understand why some parents are worried, but we can't let the terrorists win. This is a time when more than ever people need the kind of escapism bands like ours provide."

_ Christopher Ready, saxophonist for the Frank Scott Bunnell High School Marching Band and Guard of Stratford, Conn., arguing in a Nov. 4 New York Times story in favor of his band appearing in the 2002 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day.

"It is our patriotic duty to return to normalcy, because if we remain paralyzed, the terrorists won on Sept. 11."

_ Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, encouraging tourism to boost his state's flagging economy.

"When comedians feel uncomfortable telling raunchy sex jokes, the terrorists have won. So the New York Friars Club Roast of Hugh M. Hefner went on as scheduled."

_ The first paragraph of a story Nov. 1 by Christy Lemire, Associated Press entertainment writer.

"If we limit civil rights, then the terrorists have won. If we stop traveling, then the terrorists have won. If in our shock and mourning, in our deep and reasonable fear we change the way we live or the way this country operates, then the terrorists have won."

_ Columnist Louis Black, writing in The Austin Chronicle, Sept. 21.

"If FIFA surrender to the peril, the terrorists have won. If FIFA surrender to the Austrians, the terrorists have won."

_ Israel's Minister of Communications Runven Rivlin, speaking Oct. 4 about the postponement by FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) of a World Cup qualifying match between Austria and Tel Aviv. Players on the Austrian team refused to travel to Israel, citing safety concerns.

"If we stop living, the terrorists have won, and we don't intend to let them win."

_ Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in an interview with NBC anchor Tom Brokaw Sept. 19.

"As trivial as it may seem, every time we don't freely enjoy our recreational activities, that's a win for the terrorists."

_ Sports editor Alan Hunt, writing in the Sept. 30 edition of The Lompoc (Cal.) Record.

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