Wednesday, January 31, 2007

9/11 wasn't that bad, was it?

Silly Americans, making such a big fuss...

The LA times puts it all into perspective:

Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.


By this standard, the assassination of John F Kennedy wasn't that bad, was it? After all, only one person died. Even if you count Lee Harvey Oswald, the total is only two. More people than that get killed every day jaywalking. In fact, more women are beaten to death during the Superbowl every year. So what is the fuss about?

Let me take a deep breath and explain it, if I can. In the first place, if the terrorists' plans had worked out, 50,000 people could potentially have been killed at the World Trade Center. The White House, or the Capital, might have been destroyed as well. So the terrorists did their best. But I digress.

The number of people killed in automobile accidents has nothing whatever to do with the World Trade Center bombing, any more than the number of turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving does. They are two separate issues. If this knucklehead doesn't get it that an attack on one of our principal cities--a center of our civilization--is a blow to our hearts, he is a moral clod.

The number of days we have spent in the Iraq War has nothing to do with the number of days World War II lasted either. Wars last until somebody wins. You fight until you win. Or lose. Or give up and throw in the towel. But that's a story for another day.

Why attack the World Trade Center, instead of Hackensack, New Jersey? Because symbols matter. The terrorists know this. New York City matters as a symbol. So does the Statue of Liberty. The Pentagon. The White House. The Washington Monument. All these are powerful symbols.

So is the President. Killing the President doesn't have anything to do with the number of people who are killed in knife fights on Saturday night in Topeka, Kansas. The president is head of state--he is a symbol of our peoplehood, our citizenship, our existence as a nation. His death matters more than yours or mine would. I'm sorry, but that's the truth of it. The death of a columnist--like you--or a librarian--like me--would undoubtedly upset our friends and relations, but is not an earth-shaking event. Our passing will not be recorded in history books. John F Kennedy's death will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you on this