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Far too many persons compare the terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Yes, surprise was a key ingredient of both. However, two very important differences between 7 December 1941 and 11 September 2001 must be recalled if we are to view the World Trade Center tragedy realistically:
*** Begin Right Sidebar ***One year later … Unconfirmed news reports say that Osama bin Laden is dead. Without a body, those reports are likely to remain unconfirmed.
Dead or alive, however, bin Laden achieved a major goal against the United States. No, he did not destroy our nation. But with the help of our own people through our elected leaders, our individual liberties — which are so despised in the absolutist regimes of the Near East — have been curtailed.
Yes, Osama bin Laden and his unwitting minions in the White House and Congress successfully destroyed the concepts of freedom that made the United States unique.
15 September 2002
(See also my Afraid.)
*** End Right Sidebar ***
The World Trade Center was clearly non-military. Unlike the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City — a federal office building where most victims of Timothy McVeigh were government employees and their children — the World Trade Center contained commercial offices. It was not a government facility. Thus, the casualties in New York were not government employees, military or civilian. Destroying the World Trade Center did absolutely nothing to affect the military ability of the United States. Even the related attack on the Pentagon failed to reduce our nation's ability to strike back from widely dispersed military bases.
Yes, we are already learning the names of those who actually hijacked the airplanes. Soon, we will know their accomplices. Eventually, we will even know who planned, financed, and directed these attacks. But they hid, like worms under a rock. We now have to dirty our hands lifting the rock.
Israel annually suffers proportionally at least the same number of civilian casualties from terrorist attacks as died in the World Trade Center. That is correct: Not just once as in New York, but every year. Demands in the U.S. for retaliation, even among our government's leaders, merely echo the retaliation already effected by Israel against its terrorists. Why then would our retaliation be good while Israel's retaliation is often considered bad?
*** Begin Left Sidebar ***New York - Year 2032
A father and his son are walking the Manhattan streets when the father stops at a vacant lot, takes a deep breath and tells his son: "To think that at one time here on this very lot stood the Twin Towers."
The son looks at his father and asked: "Dad, what are the Twin Towers?"
Father says: "My dear son, the Twin Towers were two tremendously tall buildings with lots of offices that was the heart of the United States. But approximately 31 years ago, several terrorists destroyed the buildings."
The boy then thought for a minute and then asked his father: "Daddy what are terrorists?"
Contributed by my son
16 October 2001
Dear God, make it happen.
*** End Left Sidebar ***
Apparently, President Bush was a target that the terrorists missed. Why was he targeted? One strength of our nation is that we can indeed survive the sudden death of our President. We have done so seven times (twice within my lifetime). The loss of one person will not cripple our government or our nation.
On television and in the newspapers, we saw Palestinians celebrating the death and destruction in New York. Do we really want Israel to negotiate peace with these people? Why?
No missile destroyed the World Trade Center. President Bush's anti-missile defense (AMD) could not stop a repeat of that terrorist act. A large SUV or passenger van could carry a nuclear device that could leave a crater in the middle of Manhattan, a lagoon filled with water from the Hudson River; the other boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey would be wasteland.
Do we really need the AMD to defend us against a speculative missile attack? Would that just be another Maginot Line, which — as the terrorists demonstrated — could be as easily bypassed as the Nazis bypassed the original? Could not the money be better spent to protect us from the reality of non-missile attacks?
I heard at least one "talking head" (radio news reporter) assert that the crash of a hijacked plane into the Pentagon was the first ever attack on our nation's capital. Nope! In the War of 1812, the British occupied Washington, DC. They then set the city on fire, leaving the White House a smoldering shell.
At the time I wrote this, Osama bin Laden remained the prime suspect in planning the terrorist acts. Denials of his complicity by the Afghan government in Kabul are worthless when you consider the Taliban's past actions. If I were the President and had clear proof of bin Laden's guilt, I would give the Afghan government an ultimatum: Deliver bin Laden into U.S. hands within 48 hours, or — as an accomplice in his act of war — war will indeed be declared.
I also heard some pundit on television assert that the real leader was Iraq's Saddam Hussein. I would handle this in the same manner, with a request for a declaration of war on its way to Capitol Hill before the 48 hours expired so that Congress could finish action on time. And, in this case, I would not make the same mistake made by the current President's father; I would seek and destroy Hussein and his military forces without regard for the publicity value of ending the fighting in 100 hours.
However, I hope any retaliatory action taken by our government results only from solid evidence. We must not compound the tragedy by retaliating against an innocent target.
I fear an over-reaction by our government to this disaster. For the sake of security, I fear we might lose our freedom.
Our mail could be opened and our phone lines tapped on the slightest suspicion. Contrary to the Constitution, non-specific search warrants might be used for "fishing expeditions" by police who lack even a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being planned or has occurred.
For several years now, law enforcement agencies have sought laws to prohibit encrypted E-mail because drug dealers and terrorists use encryption. But then, businesses, lovers, and even priests use encrypted E-mail. Now the pressure will increase at least to mandate that we all give the government our encryption keys, a government that cannot even keep its own secrets.
Yes, I understand the temptation to follow the path of Singapore, where security and order are more important that individual rights. But the terrorists accomplish a significant victory if we surrender our liberties while trying to fight them.
What was the terrorists' goal? Why did they do it? Did they think that by killing thousands of people they could create sympathy for their cause? Did they think they could gain fame while trying to remain anonymous? Did they really think that, by destroying a civilian, non-government target, they could weaken the military power of the United States? Or did they think that, by focusing our anger against terrorists, they could undermine our support for Israel, a constant victim of terrorists?
12 September 2001
When I originally wrote the above comments, I thought about including something relating to the following. I decided against it because it seemed too extreme. Surely, no one would believe it. Wrong!
The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'
God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.
Jerry Falwell, on the events of 11 September,
quoted by John Balzar, Los Angeles Times, 17 September
Balzar's column then questioned whether anyone deserves what happened that Tuesday. He also points out that a very real cause of terrorism is the hatred generated by religious fundamentalists of all faiths.
No, gays did not direct any airplane into the World Trade Center. Those who support a woman's right to choose to be pregnant did not plan those terrorist attacks. Women seeking the same rights as men did not finance the flying lessons taken by the terrorists. None of those who caused this death and destruction endorsed the philosophies of the ACLU or People for the American Way. However, the terrorists did apparently hate people whose moral and religious beliefs differed from their own. That is, they followed the same path to God along which Falwell marches.
Falwell's comments were made on Pat Robertson's TV program The 700 Club. Now he claims that his comments were taken out of context. The context is quite clear from examining a transcript of what he said: Falwell blames the disaster on those whose practices are contrary to his own constipated religious dogma. The transcript also shows that Robertson supports Falwell's analysis. Further, in a written statement, Robertson declared, "We have insulted God at the highest level of our government. Then, we say, 'Why does this happen?' It is happening because God Almighty is lifting his protection from us." Actually, it happened because self-appointed, fanatical religious leaders exhorted their followers to wreak such a tragedy.
A correspondent to the Washington Post wrote:
Later, Robertson denied that Falwell attributed blame to anyone other than foreign terrorists. In another written statement, Robertson said, "In no way has any guest on my program suggested that anyone other than the Middle East terrorists were responsible for the tragic events that took place on Tuesday." This, too, is refuted by the transcript.
[Pat Robertson's quotes from Yahoo/AP]
18 September 2001
Compounding the error of Falwell's diatribe, one of the gays he condemns was one of the heroes of American Airlines flight #93. Mark Bingham, a passenger on that flight, is strongly believed to be one of those whose actions succeeded in crashing the plane and preventing it from reaching the hijackers' target. Bingham, a resident of San Francisco, was openly gay. Other gays and lesbians were victims of this tragedy; in some cases, the tragedy was compounded when compensation for survivors was denied to the life companions of gay victims.
Falwell later offered a questionable apology for his comments. Robertson pleaded ignorance (stupidity?).
But so many others died on 11 September. Why do I care about a few gays, especially when I am "straight"?
[source AP/Yahoo and other Yahoo news]
19 September 2001
Updated 2 December 2001
Headline in the Los Angeles Times, 25 September 2001
President Bush declared a war against all terrorists. Will he also freeze the assets of Hamas and Hezbollah? How about the vast river of money flowing from Irish-Americans to the Irish Republican Army (IRA)? And we should not forget our own domestic terrorists, the Aryan Nations and the various private militias (even if their supporters include some Republican members of Congress).
25 September 2001
My daughter, Heather, is a permanent resident of Canada. She sent me an E-mail message containing the following. [My own comments are Italicized in square brackets. I also bolded some of her words for emphasis.]
The events of the past couple of weeks have highlighted some serious issues between the US and Canada. Among them are:
Colin Powell talked about how US and Canadian troops will again serve together. He talked how they already have on recent NATO missions and through NORAD. Canada allows gays and lesbians to serve openly.
The US would like Canada make changes to its immigration policy that would make it more like the policy in the US. This brings up three issues right off the top of my head.
The US should look at itself before pointing fingers. And on that note, Bush said that he will strike hard at countries harboring terrorists yet his party is hell-bent against doing anything about the growing militia movement in the US.
And finally, on September 11, Canada took almost all of the US flights still in the air. Since nobody knew what would happen with those flights, millions of Canadian lives were put in danger to help the US. Canadians all over the country let total strangers live with them to help the US. Blood donation centers were filled with people trying to help the US. A woman in Regina is collecting Teddy Bears for children of victims in the US.
In his speech on Thursday night [20 September] Bush thanked dozens of countries for their help including Iran, Egypt, El Salvador, England, and Mexico, but Canada was never mentioned. And yes, people across this country noticed.
Received 22 September 2001
Posted 30 September 2001
The Reverend Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition joined Falwell and Robertson in using our national tragedy to further the homophobic campaign of the Christian ayatollahs. Sheldon noted that the Red Cross and other relief organizations are providing assistance not only to the spouses of those who died in the Word Trade Center and in the Pentagon but also to domestic partners of victims, including same-gender partners.
Denouncing relief to aid surviving members of gay partnerships, Sheldon said that the Red Cross "should be first giving priority to those widows who were at home with their babies and those widowers who lost their wives." Where does that leave the survivors who were working wives? How about an orphan who whose only parent died? What relief should be given to an unmarried survivor who was supported by a brother or sister?
In his narrow-minded hatred for anyone who does not toe the line of his one true religion, Sheldon is no better than those who directed the terrorist attacks.
[Louis Sheldon quotes from the
Washington Post, 5 October 2001]
6 October 2001
In recent weeks, President Bush and his minions claimed credit for the fact that Osama bin Laden's organization (al Qaeda) is dying in disarray, with its central command crippled and its calls for a jehad ignored. Then, in less than a week, multiple bombs hit civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia and Morroco. These well-planned terrorist attacks are now attributed to a world-wide al Qaeda network that may be planning attacks soon against other targets.
Does Bush have a clue regarding the real status of al Qaeda? Having claimed credit for success, will Bush now admit responsibility for failure?
[Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2003]
19 May 2003
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