Dec. 15, Saturday--Ground Zero Plus
WE CAN’T KILL TERRORISM—BUT WE CAN DESTROY IT!
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent Team
I thought it fascinating that America Intelligence stumbled
upon a video tape detailing all the evidence in one sitting
that bin Laden is indeed the “evil one,”—deserving of the Wrath
of God and all America’s military power.
As I drank coffee this morning with my friends and peers at
the Starbucks on 65th and Broadway in New York City,
the conversation naturally drifted to the veracity of the video
tapes showing bin Laden admitting his command over the deaths
of thousands of Americans on September 11. A high degree
of skepticism hung in the air regarding the tapes’ authenticity,
but an overall resolve neutralized the doubt. The consensus
was--with or without the tapes, just on sheer circumstantial
evidence--we were justified in “killing bin Laden.”
The right of a trial
or prima facia evidence in accordance to both our Constitutional
Laws and International Laws was tossed out the window during
our discussion. We all just felt the “evil one”
had to die. After all, somebody had to be blamed and prosecuted
for this horrific crime. And whether the government
manufactured the tape or not didn’t really matter. As
one of the younger members of the group said: “Hell, who
cares. We’re at war!”
My mission as a writer isn’t to ride the high moral ground over
government. As far as I am concerned, governments will
do whatever the citizens allow them to do. They
will stretch their power to the limits of human tolerance unless
checked and balanced the citizens’ right to revolt, either at
the ballot box or with guns and pitchforks.
To trust a government of any kind is like feeding an alligator
in hopes it will eat you last. (A Winston Churchill
saying I frequently use, but always with credit to “Winnie.’”)
Personally, I am not concerned whether bin Laden is killed,
or buried under tons of rubble, or escapes to the moon.
He is not Terrorism. My fear is Americans will be
seduced by the delusion our government is creating that bin
Laden somehow represents Terrorism, and, by eliminating him
its “leader,” we will all grow a little safer, become a little
more secure as a result of our deadly revenge.
Terrorism isn’t about killing Terrorists. It’s about how
one feels toward protecting one’s self, one’s family and one’s
community from forces bent on instilling fear, intimidation
and complacency upon them. True Terrorism
comes in both physical and emotional bombs.
The person suffering agoraphobia—the fear of going outside—is
just as much a victim of Emotional Terrorism as the causalities
of the Pentagon or World Trade Center were to Physical Terrorism.
The child who cowers in the presence of his or her parents for
fear they might raise a hand to strike, lives in the caves of
Emotional Terror. Such a child may suffer far more Terrorism
of a prolonged and vile nature than those who fell in the September
11 attack. Bin Laden’s legacy is the infection of Emotional
Terrorism—the removal of America’s “safety net,” the raping
of our homeland’s virginal security. We will never sleep
the same as a result.
By killing bin Laden, we don’t kill Emotional Terrorism in all
its nefarious forms. A teenager who thinks he or she is
too fat, too ugly, or too stupid to be “equal to others” and
shrinks into a dark, sad cave of depression—terrorized by self-depreciation
and low-self esteem—is a victim of very horrible type of Terrorism
we need to address as well as the kind bin Laden has forced
upon us. If not treated, one day the internal
rage of that teenager may grow to such a level as to cause that
child to either strike out against the world, or to retreat
deeper into its cave of self-fear. It might even pass
on its low esteem to its children, and their children.
What are we doing to deal with this Terror? Who
is worse—bin Laden or the forces of negative self-image that
kills a child’s will to achieve?
My point is that America’s true battle against Terrorism is
not about killing bin Laden. If it were, eradicating him
would relieve our country and the world of innate ills.
It would free centuries and centuries of pain and anguish people
have felt toward themselves and others. Murder, divorce,
child abuse, molestation, robbery, drug abuse—a host of vile
crimes caused by one’s terror of being a “true and fair human
being”--would be erased with bin Laden’s death. We would
live in Paradise and dance on bin Laden’s grave as the man who
finally brought peace to the world, if, and only if, he were
the true “head of Terrorism.”
But that’s not going to happen. When we kill bin Laden
and Americans let out a sigh of relief, it will be a false conclusion.
Many will assume that the “worst is over” and will feel “safe”
This is utter insanity.
As a journalist, an historian of human nature, and a man who
has vowed to fight the Beast of Terror with all my power, I
see bin Laden’s “proof of evil video tape” nothing more than
I see a nation watching it and trying to wipe its hands clean
of its “rush to judgment.” The whole scenario appears as a desperate
gasp of government to convince the world that it is “just” in
targeting one human being with all its bombs and bullets, on
the ground that it is going to “dispose” of the Terrorism’s
I fear we are setting a bad precedent by seeking to destroy
only the symbol of Physical Terrorism, and neglecting the true
problem, Emotional Terrorism.. We have invoked the
might of the world’s most powerful nation to single out one
man, and use him to open the door to other such “manhunts” so
that we might feel “safe” and “secure” that we won’t suffer
At the end of this manhunt road, lies Complacency.
When we’ve dropped our last bomb and skewed the head of bin
Laden on a stick and marched it through the streets of the world,
Terrorism will still breed. It will breed in our children,
our society, and our nation because we have not torn out its
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will remain long after the
maggots have scoured every piece of rotting flesh from bin Laden’s
physical body. Instead of marching Courage, Conviction
and Action through the streets of the world, we will march Delusion
through it. The Delusion is that Physical Terrorism
can be killed.
Only when a people, a family, a neighborhood, a community, a
state and a nation stand up to all forms of Terrorism will Terrorism
truly be put on the run. Only when Americans stand
face-to-face with Terrorism, fearless of it, will we have it
cornered and conquered.
And the only tool to achieve this goal is “vigilance.”
Only when each American takes a vow to fight Terrorism with
Courage, Conviction and Action, will we grasp the roots of the
problem and be able to yank them from the soil of fear, intimidation
and complacency in which Terrorism’s roots drive deep.
Children, parents, families face the great opportunity to stand
up to Terrorism within and without during these confusing times.
Each can become a Sentinel of Vigilance, vowing to stand up
to Terrorism’s Emotional Bombs. As Sentinels of
Vigilance, we vow to face fear with courage, intimidation with
conviction, and complacency with action. But, if
we turn our heads and let government assume the Physical Elimination
of Terrorism, we lose the great lesson September 11 taught us—Unity.
were bonded by the attack. They became, “out of
many, one.” Now, to keep that bonding is more vital
than killing bin Laden. To preserve it, we must recognize
that Terrorism can only win when we are fractionalized, disenfranchised
from one another, more concerned with private rather than national
agendas. By vowing to fight Terrorism at home, in
the neighborhoods and communities—in both Physical and Emotional
forms—we have won the battle.
If we don’t keep vigilant, bin Laden will rise again, perhaps
wearing another face, assuming another name, dressed in another
cultural belief. But his agenda will always be the same—to
instill fear, intimidation and complacency in the minds of those
who don’t have the courage, conviction or fortitude to take
But every Citizen of Vigilance can keep the legacy the victims
of September 11 left on our doorsteps. All one has to
do is say the words: “Semper Vigilantes,” Always Vigilant.
And then take every ounce of fear and convert it courage, and
every drop of intimidation and build walls of conviction around
it, and transform every yawn of complacency into a state of
action to assure that the bin Laden’s of the world will not
rise up again.
To December 14: "Why Terrorism Will Never Surrender"