I know I said I’d give you a break today, but who can stop thinking about this? If only we could somehow turn back time.
To begin with, thanks to the dozen of you who sent the following TV editorial, broadcast from Toronto by the late Canadian television commentator Gordon Sinclair at the time of our pull-out from Vietnam in 1973. Almost everyone must have seen it by now, but for anyone who hasn’t:
This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts.
None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.
I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10?
If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon – not once, but several times – and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.
I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.”
Robert Johnston: ‘When barbarians are at the gate ‘love, good works, good will’ doesn’t work. Think Hitler. As I recall, a few missiles lobbed into Syria certainly calmed them down.’
☞ I’m all for striking back at the perpetrators and their abettors in the short run. But I’m also for love, good works and good will in the long run. Think the Marshall Plan.
Bill: ‘I don’t care a whit about trying to understand the feelings of people in the world who ‘don’t feel heard.”
☞ I disagree. If only to fight the enemy better, we should try to understand him.
‘If and when we identify those responsible [Bill continues], I think the point needs to be made sharply that if people engage in these acts against humanity, they and those who harbor them will be squashed like the cockroaches they are.’
☞ I agree – although I would characterize people brainwashed by religion more as lemmings than cockroaches. Someone who knowingly inculcates in someone else a belief he cynically does not share, to gain wealth or power, is a cockroach. Worse than a cockroach. But I would characterize suicide bombers who actually think they are doing God’s work as tragically, tragically misguided – think Jonestown – not as cockroaches.
Jonathan Betz: ‘I keep hearing everyone say ‘you can’t stop a suicide attack,’ and I’m sick of it. If it turns out that the hijackers were operatives of Osama bin Laden, trained in Afghanistan to carry out acts of terrorism in the U.S., there is a simple solution. For as long as Afghanistan supports terrorism, for as long as it refuses to follow the standards of the civilized world, we, the entire civilized world, simply exclude it. Block all travel in and out of the country. Block all communication with anyone in the country. Block all commerce with other nations. Make it a black hole in the world’s eye. If Pakistan, Iran, or Iraq try to support Afghanistan, providing aid in communication or travel, add them to the black-out. Make them cease to exist for the rest of the world. Then we’ll find out how much Afghanistan wants to harbor a murderer. We don’t have to bomb anyone, we don’t have to directly kill innocent civilians. We only have to make it so that these ferocious killers can never reach their targets. In the future, let any country that chooses to support terrorists have this example to judge by – knowing that supporting terrorism will engender their complete exclusion from the world community.’
Robert Rogers: ‘With all these negative feelings, perhaps there is one, small positive one. Our governments (local, state and national) have acted superbly through this. From those Firemen and Police, who risked everything in their rescue attempts, to the Federal investigators who moved so swiftly to track down the perpetrators, our governments have given us much of which to be proud. Even at the Congressional level, we have seen our representatives do what we always hoped they would – put aside the bickering and address the needs of the country. Indeed, we have been brought together in a way that the terrorists never expected. We must grieve and mourn, and eventually resume our lives. Let us hope that we can set aside our justifiable thirst for quick revenge and employ a balanced, patient perspective to bring these terrorists to a proper end.’
Doug Buhrer: ‘Kill, kill and kill some more. It doesn’t much matter if the killed are innocent or guilty, directly involved or innocent bystanders. Symbolism is all that matters at this point. Pretending we’re civilized and above retribution won’t help. It won’t make the terrorists love us any better. Fear is a pretty good motivator, and maybe it will inspire countries who harbor terrorists to think otherwise in the future. That is, the countries we haven’t already blown off the face of the map. Thanks for letting me vent!’
Alan: ‘We must respond and respond strongly. There is no doubt of that. Unfortunately, I can offer no alternative. But I’m worried about President Bush and others in his administration promising ‘victory’ in this ‘war.’ A strong response of the kind he is hinting at is not likely to end attacks of terror, but instigate them. Israel hunted down and killed most of the terrorists from the ’72 Olympics; they have carried out countless retalitory attacks; they have carried out many assassinations of terrorist leaders; they have fought several major wars, and countless skirmishes. Have they won? With all the talk of patriotism, I wonder what we will be like after the war, as in Israel, has been going on for 50 years rather than 50 hours.’
Don Trivette: ‘I have a solution to the terrorist problem. Why not seal the pilots in the cockpit with no door to the passengers? The pilots would have their own outside hatch, head, and a pass-thru drawer for chow. Then no matter what took place in the passenger compartment the pilots would be in control of the aircraft. There could be no hijackings. Terrorists might kill all the passengers, but the plane would land normally. Or they might blow up the plane, but that’s a far cry from killing 10,000 people on the ground. One step more: some sort of gas system that would put everyone in the passenger compartment to sleep in the event of an incident. A few passengers might die from the gas, but that’s a chance they would take to fly. Why not design and retro-fit planes so that takeover is physically impossible?’
Kate: ‘In at least two subway systems I know, the driver is locked into his/her little booth, completely inaccessible to the passengers. They even have their own door to get into the train. I say make the ‘passenger tender’ a more serious job – trained cops, perhaps (forget handing out the peanuts), who have the authority to take charge of any passenger related situation.’
Will: ‘The letter on your site Thursday, written by an Arab, was one of the worst things I’ve ever read here. Agreed that different points of view should be considered, but this person’s is not one of the first.’
Tommy Pluhar: ‘I have friends in the Pentagon who are scared that this administration will make a rash, premature decision on how to respond. And no, they’re not all Democrats. In my e-mail dialogues with people, I have heard that some not only want Bin Laden assassinated, but Afghanistan’s Taliban, Syria’s Assad, Libya’s Ghadaffi, and Iraq’s Hussein done away with as well. They want their power circle eliminated and their countries forcibly democratized. Lastly, it has been proposed that Arafat be taken out of power. The grossly ignored fact is that the second we bomb any of these leaders – because, as our President has correctly pointed out, many terrorists within their states have no respect for the sanctity of human life – someone, somewhere, will unleash nuclear bombs. SO EVERYBODY SLOW DOWN.
‘All this passion is growing and it is unchecked by some scary, cold hard facts. Pockets of power in the Mid-East have nuclear warheads. They are for sale all over the world. Personality-wise, all the aforementioned leaders are tyrannical megalomaniacs who will put their fiercely-earned hierarchy above their conscience. Additionally, no one seems to understand that God-knows-who is God-knows-where, cooking up germ warfare in some makeshift kitchen, ready to spread, say, anthrax, on a bunch of large American cities. Millions of innocents will die if we bomb those not directly involved. There are too many variables to react rashly. It [could] all spiral out of control.
‘We must ferret out the perpetrators without causing widespread events that will lead to our own demise. We must garner the support of all the Arab nations to do this. We must all work together. To their credit, it looks like the administration is working hard to get all the Arab governments to assist in the hunt for Bin Laden’s cells, here (yes, many are still in this country), and abroad.
‘I am not justifying what happened. I am asking people to educate themselves on both sides of the conflict. In order to gain the support of the Arab governments, we have to find common ground and a common cause. And in order to do that, we must understand them. Most Muslims are just as horrified by these acts as we are. Muslim friends of mine have stressed that the Koran does not encourage in anyway whatsoever this kind of violence. Believe that the vast majority of ethnically Arab, Muslim people, here and there, condemn these terrorist events.’
Steve Lambert: ‘Wondering if there might be any local word about the folks at GFN.com (Gay Financial Network), whose offices are close to the WTC. They’re ‘off the air,’ which, of course, could simply be due to having no power. Let’s hope that’s it.’
☞ Thankfully, they are fine. GFN founder Walter Schubert went outside to see what had happened – a small plane had accidentally crashed into the WTC next door, he thought – just as the second plane hit. He ran for his life, and made it. Not sure when GFN will be back up.