I’m going to skip the first few paragraphs of this rambling, because we’ve all heard it a thousand times. A mere three days have elapsed since the “noteworthy incident”, to quote Tom Clancy, which occurred on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. In that time, we’ve heard of nothing else. We’ve all heard exactly what happened. We all know it’s a tragedy. We’re all aware that nearly everyone feels terrible for the families of the victims, and that something must be done. These things, while true and vitally important, need not be repeated. Please assume I said them here, and I can get on with saying something else.
Many people, though not all, say that this event is unbelievable, and that they never thought such a thing could happen. To these people, I say that it is NOT unbelievable that a terrorist strike could succeed in America, and that it is a reality of living in the real world. We’re not so different from the rest of the world. Terrible things happen, and yes, they can happen to us too. We’ve been far too complacent for far too long, and now I add my voice to those who have expressed the hope that this will be a wake-up call to America. We are not untouchable. We are not invulnerable. We must be as vigilant as any other nation; we are not so special. (1)
Another common reaction, among our politicians as well as our people, is talk of war. For these people, I have but one question: war with WHOM?! A nation cannot declare war on an unidentified enemy. If a nation had perpetrated such a crime, we would be willing and able to wipe them off the map, with or without the aid of the dozens of nations which have expressed outrage and grief equal to our own. Unfortunately, this crime was not perpetrated by a nation. No nation would act against another in this manner; it would be suicidal, in both a political and biological sense. We are dealing with a much more insidious enemy, one which cannot be defeated with air strikes and tanks and machine guns. We must fight our enemy on its own terms, and that means covertly. Now is the time for intelligence, cloak-and-dagger, and infiltration. We cannot merely choose a nation as a scapegoat and murder the innocent, or we will be no better than the enemy we seek to neutralize.
On a similar note, I’d like to express my outrage and disgust at the numerous acts of racism and violence against Arab-Americans over the past few days. This is UNACCEPTABLE. It is as vile, intolerable, and cowardly as the terrorist act that inspired it. In the America that I know, everyone is innocent until PROVEN guilty, regardless of where they’re from or what deity they worship. I am ashamed to be a citizen of the same country as the individuals perpetrating these crimes. Unlike the terrorism, these are not atrocities being committed against us by an unknown “them”. These atrocities we commit against ourselves. For a country claiming to be the greatest on Earth, when it comes down to the wire, we put up a damn poor showing.
I’d like express my sympathy and empathy for some of the victims that I think have not had their fair share of recognition. Following from my comments on racism, I would like to place first and foremost on my list the many thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent Arab-Americans who now find themselves made the targets of hatred by the uneducated, unintelligent, and just plain shameful among the citizens of this country. Many innocent people now find they must fear for their safety, harassed and threatened by their own fellow Americans. To them I offer my apologies, on behalf of those who have proven themselves too worthless to see the meaning of their own actions and chosen instead to strike blindly at the closest target. I’d also like to highlight the plight of the victims who were inside the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I have heard a great many people cite the few hundred individuals on the airplanes as the primary victims of this terrible event, overlooking the far greater suffering endured by the many THOUSANDS in the towers. I fear a more thorough explanation of my reasoning would be too graphic and in bad taste, so I shall leave it at that for now (2). Suffice it to say that I wish to speak up for these individuals and their families in particular among the victims.
Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to all of the nations and organizations who have shown support for the United States and her people in the past few days. I find it very telling that even countries traditionally at odds with the USA have spoken out against this act, and I hope that some peace treaties can be drafted and existing alliances strengthened as a result of recent events. I would hate to think that such things as have happened this week would pull the world together behind a common cause for a week or a month, only to return to its previous state of chaos immediately thereafter. Let’s not lose this opportunity to salvage something meaningful from the ashes.
Let us hope for a bloodless resolution to this conflict, increased vigilance and security here in America and world-wide, timely and effective aid for the surviving victims, and long-term improvements in world relations.
Sleep well and be safe, wherever you may live.
Special thanks to free-market.net for use of the American flag graphic, which is located in their Liberty Image Gallery.
- For more on the subject of complacency, have a look at my poem from about a year ago, Complacent You and I. In that work I mentioned a bloodless war; it would appear that Complacency has drawn first blood.
- If you really wish to know, examine the supplement to this rambling, but be warned: it is graphic, and not for the faint of heart.