What Happens When You De-Sanctify Life
By Michael Lerner
Helping Kids Through a National Crisis
By Jean Fitzpatrick
Common sense and past experience assigns these tragic events to a concerted terrorist attack. Terrorism is designed to accomplish a single end: to prove to a large, secure population that it is not invulnerable. It is generally launched by those who feel they have no other means or representation to make their situation felt. It is the ultimate failure of human communication, the poison pen letter sent without a name.
This event signals a massive failure of the intelligence community, too, a community that always seems to be staring intently in the wrong direction just when the next disaster strikes. Thus, in 1995, the Oklahoma bombing was laid at the door of an undefined Arab source, until we learned some days later that the perpetrators came from within. This most recent tragedy required three things: a number of trained pilots prepared to die for their cause; a set of easily acquired flight charts; and a poor security system that permitted the perpetrators access to commercial aircraft. This may have been well coordinated, but it is not particularly sophisticated. Certainly it could not be described as "high tech."
As the force of this "second Pearl Harbor" sinks in, anything could happen in the government, society, and collective psyche of the country. It is worth recollecting at this point that both the media and individuals should shy away from generalizations that can only incriminate innocent people and aid and abet the perpetrators. The usual assumption will no doubt emerge, linking these events to the "Middle East" and to "Islam."
Many millions of decent Americans happen to be Muslims. They attend U.S. schools, serve society as lawyers, doctors, waiters, and cabbies. Yet they are routinely mistaken for terrorists and have often been the targets of painfully misdirected threats and accusations.
We need to remember the simplest things in such a crisis as this one: that no matter who committed these atrocities, they are very likely a handful of people marching under a banner they have ripped from the hands of others without consent. That flag may be an American flag or a Star and Crescent, or some other symbol. It is a piece of cloth in which they have wrapped their nightmare, not an accurate representation of democracy or Islam. When we think of the Ku Klux Klan we do not think of Christianity, although the cross has been its chosen symbol for over a century.
Terrorism only wins when it forces others to abandon their own best principles.