Aug. 31, 2003: Some Thoughts on the Anniversary of 9/11

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently released some 2000 pages of conversations from their employees trapped in the World Trade Center just after Arab terrorists had flown high jacked airplanes into the buildings on Sept. 11, 2002, killing almost 3,000 people. The calmness and bravery of the victims is overwhelming.

The transcripts were released at the insistence of the New York Times, who doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about how the victims’ families must feel as they read the last words of their loved ones along with the rest of us. The Times insensitivity is matched only by the Florida newspapers that sued to get photographs of Dale Earnhardt’s autopsy over his family’s pleas for privacy after the race car driver was killed. You see, we journalists live in a different world from the rest of you plebeians. Bad taste is our middle name.

At the same time the Ports Authority transcripts were being made public, a group of Muslims in Britain announced that they are planning a conference to celebrate the second anniversary of America’s “comeuppance.” These slime bags are going to honor the 19 terrorists, who think they got a HOV lane trip to heaven for killing people whose only sin was to enjoy a way of life that these barbarians can’t fathom.

I have been waiting for Arab clerics or Arab heads of state or Arab special interest groups to publicly denounce the blind hatred of the boobs in Britain and to reject them and their actions. But, alas, all is silence. I should have known better. Let’s assume that a white religious sect announced it was going to “celebrate” the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four children, whose only sin was to have a different skin color from the bombers. The uproar from right-minded people in this country would have been quick and condemning of such outrageous bigotry. Evidently, it takes a lot to sicken the Arab world. Having fellow Muslims associated with a public celebration of the murder of thousands of innocent people seems to fall within their tolerance range.

My faith teaches that we should forgive and “turn the other cheek” when we are wronged and “judge not, lest we be judged.” In my heart I know that is right, but I can’t bring myself to forgive the highjackers for what they did nor can I turn the other cheek while they blow up a few more buildings and kill a few thousand more people. I can’t help judging a bunch of sick and depraved people – and those that refuse to condemn them – who think a sneak attack that murdered thousands of innocent people is something to celebrate. Clearly, Gil Watson, the World’s Greatest Preacher, has his work cut out for him if he is going to save this wretched soul. (Maybe my punishment will be that when I will get to the Pearly Gates, I will discover that God holds an honorary degree from Georgia Tech and reads the New York Times.)

We had better understand just how seriously other people want to see us fail and the lengths to which they will go to make it happen. There will be other attacks, rest assured. We need to worry less about hyphenating our differences and more about defending the things that unite us. We need to consider our collective security for a change. If the Republic isn’t free, then neither are we. We think that trashing our country as well as those who govern us is a glorious exercise of our free speech. It may be, but we should remember that it also gives aid and comfort to those who would harm us. We say we are one nation under God and indivisible. But are we?

It has been two years and I am still angry about the events of 9/11. Those who died that day are heroes. Those who killed them are cowards. Those who celebrate the deaths are despicable. Those who look the other way or try to rationalize what happened that day are contemptible. Turn the other cheek? I’m not there yet.