THE VigilanceVoice 

Dec. 15, Saturday--Ground Zero Plus 95

Cliff McKenzie
 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” again.
            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 toilet paper.
            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 epicenter.
            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 another attack.
            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 roots.

            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.
          Americans 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 action.
           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.

Go To December 14: "Why Terrorism Will Never Surrender"

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