by H. Millard (c) 2001

With the horrible carnage of September 11, fresh in our minds, we may wish to consider that we have now left the world of the New Testament and its admonition to turn the other cheek when wronged, and entered the bloody world of the Old Testament with its eye for an eye measure of revenge. The terrror and a bloody world view were brought here by immigrants who should have been stopped at our borders, but who weren't. Now, thousands of good, decent Americans are dead.

This Old Testament/New Testament comparison may turn out to be more than just a glib statement, and it may be far more than a symbolic shift for America which has been, through most of its existence, a New Testament Christian nation.

In the aftermath of the events in New York and Washington, we have heard President Bush say that the U.S. will attack those nations that harbor terrorists. While this may seem, at first, to be a common sense thing to do, that simple statement is fraught with deeper meaning. This is so, because it encompasses a sense that there is a group guilt on the part of nations where terrorists live. Such Sodom and Gomorrahattribution of a group guilt is usually eschewed by Americans, at least in modern times. Even now, however, we are hearing ordinary Americans saying that we should nuke Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden, the reputed mastermind behind the attacks, is living--in some sort of raining down of fire and brimstone as upon Sodom and Gomorra.

What happens when you nuke a nation? You essentially kill much of the life in that nation. You kill the leaders, the soldiers, and the terrorists, but you also kill the ordinary citizens, the taxi cab drivers, the shop owners. You also kill the babies and the children, who certainly can't be guilty of anything since they are just babies and children. Or, do they share the group guilt? So, how do you justify nuking a nation that hasn't, as a nation, attacked you? Well, you must first WWII 'Jap'mount a propaganda campaign to paint everyone in that nation as evil. This isn't as easy to do today in our PC world as it once was. Once, we were able to demonize entire countries of "Japs," for example. We were able to show caricatures of the people of entire nations--entire racial and national groups--as having inhuman and evil ape like faces. Today, that would be seen as racism.

So, what does a nation, intent on punishing terrorists it can't pinpoint, do to get revenge? Again, we are left with some version of nuking; not necessarily in a literal sense, but in the sense that there is likely to be major bombing and destruction of the nation that harbors the terrorists. How does the U.S. do that? The sad lesson of Vietnam, learned the hard way by the U.S.; how not to win a modern war, and whose corollary; how to win a modern war, was then demonstrated in Desert Storm, has shown us that we can't make war a little at a time.

Afghan boysWhen warfare is undertaken that way, in this day of mass media, the other side is able to get out too much propaganda to the American people, including, but not limited to, many photos of maimed children. Seeing such photos puts a human face on all the destruction and weakens resolve. Children of all nations are cute. And, nothing can ruin national resolve faster than seeing children hurt in warfare. In addition, slow wars allow American anti-war opinion too much time to build. We saw that in the Vietnam experience as well.

Perhaps it is to counter this children are cute sentiment, that politicians from Israel are saying that Arab terrorists are first made into terrorists in kindergarten where they are programmed with terror to be carried out later in life when they reach an age when they can, presumably, pilot jet liners into American skyscrapers or to otherwise wreck havoc on civilization. Does this not also harken back to the Old Testament, where we read of all the babies in a nation being put to death in an attempt by various rulers to keep them from growing up to destroy the rulers?

BushAdd to the above thoughts, the perception, right or wrong, apparently held by many people, that President Bush did and does look wimpy in all this. Sure, the Secret Service probably suggested that Air force One should go first to Louisiana and then to Nebraska before returning to Washington on September 11, but wouldn't you, if you were President, have overruled that suggestion and gone directly back to Washington, if for no other reason than for the symbolism of being there? Why is this important? Because there are few people who are as foolish or dangerous as a person who tries to appear tough, to counter appearances to the contrary. Taking the wrong actions, for the wrong reasons, in the present situation can lead to counteractions that have the potential of causing eternal war on American soil. Are Americans really ready to, as is seen in Israel, go everyplace with machine guns under their arms?

Remember '911'We must remember that America is no longer immune from direct attack. That was amply demonstrated on September 11. The oceans have shrunk with modern transportation, and our borders are made porous by widely held group-think clichés about America being "a nation of immigrants" which, when added to the cliché about our "wonderful diversity," creates the very real potential of unrecognized enemies in our midst that we have no defense against. Add to those factors the ease with which suitcase size nuclear bombs can be made, and the simplicity of carrying city destroying biological weapons in a soda can, and you start to see the danger. Those who hate America can easily slip across our border from Mexico or Canada carrying weapons of mass destruction with them. Or, as they did on Tuesday, they can improvise and use items already here as weapons of mass destruction.

Bombing entire nations that are claimed to harbor terrorists but which we can not prove are parties to the terrorism will only increase the ancient eye for an eye revenge motives against America of those who believe that they were wronged. If some of those who think they were wronged by America--because we support their enemies--were angry enough to sacrifice their lives by attacking us on Tuesday; how much angrier will others be if we directly attack them and their children?

We must also understand that we were attacked on Tuesday, not by people whose ideology is "terror," because that's not an ideology at all, it's just a tactic. And, remember, "terrorists" are always those who do not have vast armies or air forces to fight their battles, and who must, therefore, use other methods to try to win their wars. When we demonize them as terrorists it may make us feel good that we have called them a name, but most terrorists consider themselves as soldiers fighting in a noble cause against an enemy with superior resources. To the British in early America, those ragtag American snipers hiding behind walls and trees in the Massachusetts countryside were cowardly terrorists, who would attack and hide instead of fighting the way the British wanted to fight.

And, no, I'm not comparing what happened on Tuesday to the American Revolution, nor am I comparing those who carried out those dastardly deeds to American patriots, but I am saying that we need to look at events, both with our way of looking at things, and also the way the enemy looks at them. We, as Americans, may consider those who killed so many of our countrymen on Tuesday to be cowards and terrorists, but when we see pictures of people in Arab countries dancing with joy in the streets over the attacks, we should use our intellect, not our emotions, and realize that these terrorists are not seen that way there, and we are not seen as the good and righteous people that we believe we are. We must look at these events in this almost cool and detached way, lest we take the wrong actions, against the wrong people, and plunge America into a never ending cycle of blood vengence.

Is this then a call to not strike back at those involved in attacks on American soil? No. But it is a call to do it right, lest we become completely embroiled in a fight that is rightly not ours at all and which should more properly be confined to the Middle East, not Middle America.

Work on a farm this summerA few practical, positive steps we can take to stop future attacks on American soil would be to deport all illegal aliens in our nation and then have our troops enforce our borders. Then we should stop all immigration for several years. America doesn't need more immigrants. If we need workers, we can get them from our own internal growth. #  #  #