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Posted By: Dave, on host
Date: Thursday, September 13, 2001, at 01:08:24

Like most Americans and indeed many people around the world, I've been fairly glued to my TV and radio for the better part of the last two days. Many thoughts have been running through my head, and I feel the need to share some of that.

First, I dislike watching 24-hour coverage of events like this, even though I do it anyway. I dislike it because of the many conflicting and wrong reports that inevitably result from hasty reporting by journalists trying to get the word out. I was watching live when the first WTC tower collapsed, and listened to Peter Jennings instantly assume that it must have been taken down by bombs in the basement. Thankfully it was only a few minutes later that a reporter on the scene called in to say that in fact the building had crumbled from the point of collision down, not from any additional damage done to the bottom. I along with untold millions of others listened to "confirmed" reports of car bombs at the State Department that I for one never heard a retraction of--in fact, I went for most of yesterday believeing that these reports were in fact true. It was only when I failed to see or hear anything else about them that I realized they must have been false reports. Originally the plane that hit the Pentagon was reported to have gone down on the National Mall.

I don't blame the media for this. This wasn't a case like the 2000 Presidential election where they had the option and the luxury to wait until things were more certain before predicting a winner and chose not to--in cases of disasters like this, every second could count as far as informing the public of possible dangers. However, I dislike the flying rumors, the "confirmed" reports that turn out to be false, and the misleading information that goes along with this hasty reporting--and yet I, like most people, watch anyway.

Everytime I think of the number of people inside those buildings when they were struck and later when they collapsed, my head spins. Reports now say the death toll could be upwards of 20,000 people. If true--and unfortunately I have no reason to believe the death toll estimates will do anything but rise in the days and weeks to follow--this would make September 11th, 2001 the bloodiest day in the US since Semptember 17th, 1862 and the Battle of Antietam that resulted in 23,000 Americans killed, wounded, or missing.

At least in 1862 we knew who we were fighting. We were fighting each other, but the lines were clearly drawn on both sides, and each side knew exactly who to shoot at. Today, we know only bits and pieces of who *might* be involved, although we have firm suspicions. The cowards who perpetrated this heinous crime either died for their cause or hide now in their holes while we are left to diligently search for them and expose them to the light of day.

To not even stand up and claim responsibility for such an act is not only cowardly beyond comprehension but in my eyes does an extreme disservice to their "cause". If you would not stand up and state clearly why you commited such an act, your reasons must not be very good, even to you, it would seem.

We are at war with an enemy we can't see, can't easily identify when we DO see them, and who are willing to die for whatever it is they are fighting for. This is not an enemy that we can ever force to stand on the deck of a warship and sign a surrender agreement; this is not even an enemy that is defined by national borders. This is an enemy we must hunt down and eradicate man by man wherever they hide if we ever hope to claim any sort of victory over them. As much as most Americans would wish to see some form of retaliation for this awful event, we don't even yet know WHO to retaliate against. And even once we know who, we may not know where, or even how to do so effectively without stooping to their levels of wholesale slaughter. It is frustrating and infuriating in the extreme.

I wonder what kind of people would carry out such an act. We hear it blamed increasingly on militant Islamic fundamentalists. What kind of religion would sanction such things? I can only hope and believe that the "Islam" of these people equates more closely to the "Christianity" of Hitler and the KKK than it does to any true sense of what Islam is about. Religion can be used to justify almost anything if you're willing to twist it far enough. But just the fact that there are human beings in this world who would willing kill themselves and tens of thousands of others in the name of their God without a second thought scares the hell out of me.

I wonder what the goals of this attack were. If it was simply to kill as many Americans as possible, then it's certainly been effective. But if it is true that Islamic extremeists are responsible for this, were they trying to get us to change our Middle Eastern policy? Trying to terrorize us into changing our attitudes and policies towards Israel and the more moderate Arab nations? Or were they simply trying to scare us into hiding in our houses and not daring to intervene while they go ahead with their holy war against us and others in this world? It angers me to think of these possibilities, but more than that it makes me wonder what these people *truly* think we are like. Do they *really* think they can scare us into submission, or scare us into changing our policies they don't like? If they do, then they are ignorant of the entire history of this country. Americans are polarized politically, diverse in race, religion, and culture, fractured, in-fighting, and oftentimes brutal to one another. But if ever our safety, our soveriegnty, our freedom, or our way of life is threatened or attacked, we put aside all differences and stand together to face our common enemy, and we do not stand down until that enemy is rendered incapable of threatening us anymore. Anything less would be intolerable.

Tuesday morning, Colorado Governor Bill Owens addressed the state to explain what measures were being taken to assure the safety of Coloradans during these times of uncertainty and fear. In his closing remarks, he recounted a quote attributed to Japenese Admiral Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The admiral said "I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant." Paraphrasing that remark, Owens said "I believe that this morning the forces of international terrorism have once again awakened the sleeping giant." I don't think I've heard anybody put it better since then.

-- Dave

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