#205 | Monday, October 15th 2001
I was at work, like many people on the East Coast when I heard the first reports, confused and panicked, of an airliner crashing into the World Trade Center.
Immediately, my mind flashed to terrorism. I lived and worked in that area for several years and knew it would be difficult for a plane to accidently hit NYC in general and the WTC specifically. We were in basement offices, the only radio reception was a top 40' station which announced a plan hitting the WTC and went back to playing mindless drivel. Internet connections were swamped. Getting information was like plucking it out of the air from errant Passenger Pigeons.
I rushed out to my car, knowing NPR would not fail me. Everything was shattered that day. WHYY was broadcasting a report on President Bush's education initiative. It was, no doubt, a story that had taken a long time and many skills to produce but hearing this when I ached for information was like a slap in the face. I felt as if the Twilight zone had possessed my mind and led me on a Philip K. Dick ride of frantic activity and misinformation and altered reality, shifting like pebbles in a clear riverbed. Everything so clear, so static, so changed in the blink of an eye.
Scanning the radio stations was heartbreak and torture, and then I found the one station providing real information. It was the station broadcasting the Howard Stern show. The dichotomy of the situation struck me even then, Howard Stern was, apparently, the king of all media after all. Not only that, his was the first voice I heard cautioning people, in this case his own person, not to blame all Islamic people, all Middle-Easterners, for this if it turned out to be a terrorist attack by a person of Arabic descent.
Then the news of the second attack. I went back inside to the office. The top 40 radio station apologized to all and sundry but was going to suspend normal operation and provide a live news feed.
I turned to a colleague and told him this was an act of war. Then the news of the Pentagon, the general confusion, the false reports of car/truck bombs, and then the final news of the airliner outside of Pittsburgh. During the whole ordeal I kept repeating that there was no way these could be American pilots. Many of them, I said, were ex-military and there was no way an American pilot could do such a thing.
I don't know if I was trying to comfort myself, or just babbling but I am thankful that my initial impression was correct. The only US citizens involved on these airliners where heroes.
And now, over a month has passed and I find my initial impressions confirmed. It was an act of war, many people are speaking out against the racist persecution of those who resemble superficially the horrid individuals who are responsible for this crime, and some American citizens are terrorists, striking out blindly at those they misunderstand and mistrust in hopes of creating an atmosphere of fear.
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are two such people. Their action was to blame Americans for this tragedy. Their mind set and speech sound more like terrorist rhetoric than anything God would ever acknowledge. I despise their ego-centric ranting as I despise the ego-centric ranting of all those who try to tell me what God really wants. It is good to note that one of the types of people against whom these two slanderous vermin preached was one of the heroes of United Flight 93. And it begs the question. Since a gay man gave up his life to save others and Falwell and Robertson only whined and postured, who acted in a more Christian manner? Robertson needs to stick to his diamond mines and leave God to those who live their faith rather than use their faith for power and control. Falwell needs to ooze into the last hole out of which he slithered and stay there. These two know no more of God than the thugs responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.
It is good to see the nation, as a whole, pull together. It is even better to see the nation not march blindly from patriotism to a nationalistic tune. I am glad we are pursuing those responsible. I am relieved we are demonstrating the price of making war against the United states. I am much surprised and supportive of the initiative to feed the Afghan people.

It is war now and war is ugly and unjust and causes the deaths of many who are not associated with the evils perpetuated, but before we can have a dialogue with a bully, we must first get their attention. Appeasement never works, history is clear on that. It is best we meet the bully and demonstrate their current course will bring ruin to them. After that message is clear, perhaps they will be willing to talk. That we provide succor for the innocents we can is a wise move.

And now, I move on while remembering, sometimes with a shock, that the WTC is gone. There are birthdays to celebrate, families to attend, Halloween is coming and there are costumes to make. Nothing is forgotten, but I refuse to allow mindless and small spirited people to change the course of my life merely because they seek to kill innocents.

I reject their message, I reject their "cause," I reject them as members of civilization. They are vermin, common criminals, they need to be caught, tried, and punished like all other thugs. There is little I can do other than donate money, time, and refuse to let my spirit be broken.

This I do with a vengeance, a deliberate act of will, and an unwavering commitment.

Jonathan | 40 | Pennsylvania

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