There will eventually be another terrorist act inside the United States. The question is, How will we react? If we react the same way we did to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we will probably wreck our economy.
We should learn from the Israelis. When there is a terror attack, you pick up the bodies, hose down the blood, repair the damage and go right on with ordinary life, just as if it hadn't happened.
That will be hard for Americans to do because of the television vultures. God knows those characters on the cable channels can talk a whole week about some trivial incident. Give them a little blood and good video, and they'll all go nuts. And the politicians are just as bad. They push and shove to get their camera time so they can express their grief/outrage, etc.
Look, let's cut to the bone. President George W. Bush blundered us into a war. To quote the famous Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, "War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'." As the war drags on, we will kill some of them and they will kill some of us, and we will kill some of them and they will kill some of us, and so on and so on for an indefinite number of years.
So get used to it. Hoot down and pelt with French fries any politician or bureaucrat who gives you the old "We will never let this happen again" routine. Heifer dust. It will happen again and again. Hoot down any politician who tells you "we are fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here." That's another crockpot full of fertilizer. You cannot lock down a country and prevent terrorism 100 percent. That is impossible, and you, as a rational person, should heap scorn on any fool who tells you otherwise.
We are a nation of 3.5 million square miles, with thousands of miles of porous borders. People, trucks and cargo containers come in and out of here by the millions every single year. We can't keep drugs out. We can't keep illegal aliens out. And we won't be able to keep terrorists out.
We are, to use that sterile Pentagon jargon, a target-rich environment. The terrorist has an almost unlimited choice of different ways to attack us. It need not be a spectacular attack. After all, Osama bin Laden had no idea the twin towers were going to collapse. The collapse was due to the way they had been constructed.
But a car bomb on a crowded street or a satchel bomb in a restaurant will achieve the same ends for the terrorists. The ways they can attack us are limited only by their imagination.
What we have to do is develop the backbone to suck it up and get right on with our business. We cannot afford to bring the whole country to a halt every time a bomb goes off. We are going to have to be like the British during the blitz — stiff upper lip and all that.
God willing, we will eventually elect a president smart enough to realize that the terror is caused by our foreign policy and that the only way to end the terrorism is to change our policies. But until we do, we will just have to get used to some blood on our streets.
It's not as if we aren't already used to it. Our home-grown terrorists, commonly called criminals, murder an average of 15,000 Americans every year, and, of course, our favorite machine, the automobile, takes out another 40,000 or so folks every year.
Remember, you are highly unlikely to be a victim of a terrorist attack. All you have to do is to not go bonkers when someone else is killed. When the attack comes, watch it once and then turn off your TV and go on with your life.
August 17, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.