It's now two years after the day, as Alan Jackson put it in his song, the world stopped turning. As many of you reading this know, I was in Manhattan that day. I watched the whole thing on TV as I got ready for an appointment three blocks away from Ground Zero at 11 AM (that, of course, never happened). My memories of that day are mainly a mounting disbelief, compounded by frustration and desperation at being unsuccessful in letting my family know I was several miles away and in no danger. There's one other memory that lasts, however, and it's the one that drives my feelings toward the rest of the world: the CNN video of Palestinians dancing in the streets in wild celebration.
Oh, sure, the leadership of the Palestinians clamped down almost immediately and expressed their sorrow at the events of the day. They could do nothing else if they wished to have any relevance at all in the world afterwards. Their actions since then give the lie to their pious words, however, as Palestinian militants, with the overt support of the Palestinian Authority (which refuses to lift a finger to stop them), continue to kill innocent civilians. Their refusal to renounce terror puts them in the same category as al Qaeda.
There are still those who would negotiate with the terrorists. They say that terror will never end until we understand their demands and give them what they want. To that, I can only reply, BULLSHIT!
There is another way. It is one that we have taken in the past, practically since our existence as a country. Tom Clancy's latest book, The Teeth of the Tiger, gets its name from the following quote: "If you want to kick the tiger's ass, you'd better have a plan for dealing with his teeth." It's time to show our teeth. More than that, it's time to use them.
Afghanistan was a good beginning. Iraq was another good beginning. We haven't shown that we have the balls to finish the job, however. We need to sound the deguello ourselves. The terrorists show no mercy, and ask for no quarter. We should not offer them any. We should make war on them. Full, unrestricted war, using their own rules of engagement, for that is all that they understand. We should wipe them from the face of the earth. Along with the terrorists should go anyone who supports, finances, harbors, trains, or shields terrorists. If that makes our friends in Saudi Arabia unhappy, I'll give them a towel to cry on. When I say anyone, I mean anyone. No exceptions. If you support terrorists, you are one yourself, and should be dealt with accordingly.
The attacks of two years ago have had one other consequence: They've led us, as a body politic, to forget that what defines us as Americans are the civil rights that the Founding Fathers laid down as inviolable. We tolerate today invasions of our privacy that, 100 or even 20 years ago, would have people marching in the streets with torches. Our police forces have broad, sweeping powers to invade people's lives without any sort of oversight, and without even having to notify the victims of the invasion.
Ben Franklin put it best: "Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." That we have allowed this to happen is nothing less than a victory for the terrorists.
Instead, we should go back to basic principles. I have an NRA t-shirt that expresses it perfectly: "The Second Amendment: America's Original Homeland Security". We should allow anyone who has obtained a concealed handgun permit in their state of residence to carry a firearm aboard airline flights. This would generate a large, ready force of air marshals overnight. Terrorists would think twice about trying anything if they knew that they would only earn their own private martyrdom without having the opportunity to turn the deaths of thousands into their own political statement.
The most common objection (aside from the hysterics of gun grabbers such as the group Sarah Brady runs, whatever it's called this week) to this is that stray rounds would wreck aircraft. This is a fallacy. Modern aircraft, while not invulnerable, will withstand bullet holes without exploding in midair. The pilots would be able to land the aircraft safely
Instead of cowering in our homes, we need to return America to the principles that got us where we are in the first place. We should allow our people to defend themselves, rather than depending on increasingly intrusive government to take care of us. We never have, and we should not now.
As for the terrorists, we should take the war to them - not just al Qaeda, but all of them. It's time to sound deguello and take the gloves all the way off.