Zero Plus 362
The Facade Of Terrorism
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, September 9-- Everything has appearances. Then there
Terrorism is one of those
"appearances." It is a facade, hiding the Truth behind its
I've always felt the power of "false
walls," facades that drive me back in Intimidation they might be real.
Often I feel like the crow who, upon seeing the scarecrow for the first
time, flaps his wings in quick retreat.
But crows aren't
stupid. When the realize the scarecrow doesn't move, and its body is
made of straw, it soon hops around the cornfield consuming all it wants,
laughing at the farmer who vaingloriously thought he could outsmart his
After a year of awakening to the fact
the United States is vulnerable to attack from anyone at anytime, it seems
we still haven't learned the lesson Terrorism brought to us.
The lesson wasn't about our
ability to be blown up. The lesson was about our powerlessness
to stop those who try.
In the September 11 issue of
Time Magazine, filled with stories about 9.11 heroes and victims, someone
at the editorial board allowed an essay by Michael Kinsley slip between
the covers. It's called, "How To Live A Rational Life."
It should have been titled: "Bah Humbug Terrorism!"
Kinsley points out the
absurdity of reacting to Terrorism the way America has. In an
early illustration, he cites how people boarding airplanes are searched
relentlessly, while aboard the plane, first class passengers receive metal
knives and forks--potential weapons that could spear through someone's
It's a small but important
example are, in Kinsley's words: "farcically trivial or farcically
He points out that one who is
crazy does the unexpected, the irrational, and as a result, no one can
predict what will happen or defend adequately against it because the
actions of the irrational cannot be predicted. In other
words, he points out, we should be doing less not more to thwart
He also notes that more people die each
year from accidental drowning than died on September 11, and that it would
take Terrorists blowing up 50 fully loaded planes to equal the number of
driving deaths in America.
His main thesis is that we should stop
trying to second guess the Terrorists by overreacting--i.e., checking an
old lady's shoes for bombs prior to entering an airplane.
His last line in the essay sums up his
view: "We need the courage and good sense to bury our heads in the
sand a bit."
While I agree with
Kinsley that we are acting with utter absurdity in our efforts to make a
"show" against the irrationality of Terrorism, I oppose the idea that it
takes "courage" to bury one's head in the sand. What
that takes is Complacency. Futility. Intimidation.
While a good portion of what he says
is on target--that we are overreacting to Terrorism's facade, what he
missed in his viewpoints was the power of Vigilance to protect the
children, and their children's children from Terrorism's true
threat--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
I find it hard to believe an advanced
nation such as America with the most sleek technology in the world for
studying the human and mind and its potential, is obsessed with the skin
of Terrorism and not with its organs.
On the outside, Terrorism
is about being bombed, or gassed, or nuked by some madman or group of
madmen seeking revenge, or bent on issuing a Holy War against an
ideology--all at the expense of the innocent.
The unlawful use or threatened use of
force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or
property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or
governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
But when Terrorism's skin is peeled
back, and the viscera of its inner workings are exposed, it's true
carcinogenic nature comes into view. Terrorism is an infection of
the mind, a sense of powerlessness over one's primal fears.
as a word is defined in Webster as:
I think that definition is
a bit flat. Terrorism is the fear a child has he or she isn't
loved enough. It is the intimidation a child feels when he or she
looks at other children and feels disenfranchised from them, alienated,
less than, not worthy as. Terrorism is a child waiting for the
parent to strike them, or abuse them physically or emotionally.
It is the worker sitting at his or her desk waiting to be fired in the
midst of layoffs, or that sense of fear that if your spouse doesn't love
you you are a nobody. Terrorism is about a man or woman
feeling like a "failure," and spending time at the local bar to "feel
good," while in his or her dreams all that is seen is a guy or gal pushing
a rock up a mountain that continually falls down, and the cycle goes on ad
Terrorism is all about the virus of Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency. It's not about knives and guns
and bombs and nukes. It's about how we react to them as
a society, and what we do as a result of their presence.
Contrary to Mr. Kinsley's
viewpoint we should "bury our heads," I believe we haven't taken them out
of the sand. I don't think there's much difference in
America between post and pre September 11. The only
thing that has happened is that we have tossed the word "terrorism" around
so long we are getting tired of hearing it, and, as Mr. Kinsley so aptly
points out, tired of the absurdities associated with reacting to it.
That's why I believe we need to "pull
our heads out of the sand," or, in a more visual way of expressing it,
"pull our heads out of our anuses."
The real Terrorist threat is our
blindness to what the events of September 11 were all about.
If we look for the "rationale" of
September 11, as Mr. Kinsley sought to point out was "impossible" because
Terrorists are "irrational," we can find it not in the word "Terrorism,"
but in its opposite word, "Vigilance."
Vigilance isn't about launching war
on Iraq, or checking little old lady's shoes for bombs in airports, or
stripping the U.S. Constitution of our basic privacy rights so government
can snoop into our lives. Vigilance is about the
responsibility each citizen in America has to protect the children, and
the children's children from the threats of Terrorism.
In the Pledge of Vigilance,
I've summarized my viewpoints on how America and the world can remove the
facade of Terrorism being exploited by politics and the press, and see the
genuine value of it, the true way to combat its forces.
To me, the greatest weapon of
defense against Terrorism is to recognize that we are the Terrorists.
We are the ones who allowed the Fear, the Intimidation, and the
Complacency that Terrorism to feed upon us. We supply the fuel
for future attacks by reacting rather proacting to it.
Mr. Kinsley was dead-on when he went
through the litany of futile, Monday-quarterbacking efforts America has
taken to try and shut the doors to future Terrorism. No one
can stop a madman from acting with madness. No one ever has in
history, and no one ever will. For every madman that is killed or
destroyed, another takes his place. That's the true facade of
Terrorism--it can never be eliminated, only countered.
But we, Citizens of
Vigilance, can indeed counter Terrorism at our doorsteps. We can
turn a child's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into Courage, Conviction
and Right Actions if we use the lessons we have been given from Nine
If we can believe that those who died
that day are still alive in spirit, and have returned in the form of
Sentinels of Vigilance, as Simonides memorialized his "Spartans of
Vigilance" 2,500 years ago when he wrote his poem about the Battle of
Thermopylae and told the world the Spartans had not died, but were alive,
watching, guarding Greece from future Terror, then we can grasp the power
of the message left in the wake of the events we call "tragic." We
can see them as not elements of a tragedy, but the first chapter in an Era
Defending our nation from Terrorism,
to me, is rethinking and reevaluating our roles as Sentinels of Vigilance.
If we, as parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and
aunts, and loved ones can't unify our efforts to reduce our Fear, our
Intimidation and our Complacency that we are powerless over Terrorism,
then we all lose. Then we have our heads stuck in the sand.
September 11, 2002, tears will be shed. People will feel the
pain of sadness at the loss of loved ones. Politicians will rattle
swords. Bagpipes will forlornly sing. But there
will be little hope shined into the grave of the memories of those who
gave their lives for Vigilance that day. Few will pull their
heads out of the Sand of Complacency and call upon the Sentinels of
Vigilance to restore us with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions, or
charge us with the duty to build and re-build those characters into our
children, and their children's children. Few will say to the world
of Terrorism that "Vigilance Will Fight Your Every Effort To Inject Us
With Fear, Intimidation And Complacency, For We Have The Shield Of
Vigilance In Our Hand, Rich With Courage, Conviction And Right Action!"
So, as we
approach the year-end mark of the Terrorist attack, we have
a choice. We can use Courage to pull our heads out of
the sand, but not to put Band-Aids on Terrorism.
If we do pull out of the sand, it should be to become Sentinels
of Vigilance. If we do this, the Spirits of Vigilance
from September 11 will cheer us. And so will our children,
and their children's children.
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