You Can't Discount the Horror
Thomas Friedman writes in the Times that "after all the terrorism the world has seen in the last decade, what the right reaction is: wash the sidewalk, wipe away the blood, and let whoever did it know that while they have sickeningly maimed and killed some of our brothers and sisters, they have left no trace on our society or way of life."
Friedman is being unsympathetic, mushy, and childish. He's unwilling to admit to the tragedy that has befallen us. He would rather wash it all away and pretend it didn't affect us. He'd rather steal the proper grieving from those families who lost loved ones and those who were crippled. He'd rather boast, like all the untouched tourists of other people's sadness, that we are not hurt by the same terrorism that has touched us so dramatically.
Maybe Friedman wasn't maimed, and maybe I wasn't, but we still have no right to encourage people to not fully measure and embrace the horror of the occasion. If we treat it like nothing and pretend that it has "left no trace on our society," then we will never appreciate its enormity and the importance of revenge.
Friedman thinks denying the heart of darkness proves his courage to discount the horror. But we are better off to embrace it, understand it, and try to prevent it in the future. Washing blood from the streets does not cleanse the murderous instinct in man.
Friedman goes on to say, "[W]e must never accommodate" terrorists. Then he accommodates them by diminishing the truth of their effect. He does not affirm our lives by hiding from our deaths.
He adds, "[L]et there be no reminder whatsoever of what President Obama called this 'heinous and cowardly act' of terror." Neither Friedman nor Obama mentions that the real cowardly act of terror is failing to present a strong front to our potential enemies.
Reagan and Thatcher defeated Russia and won the Cold War by showing strength. They did not present cowardice. Cowards clean the streets of blood. Heroes kiss the blood and try to help.
Friedman says, "[I]n today's world, sometimes we pay for that quintessentially American naïveté, but the benefits -- living in an open society -- always outweigh the costs." I guess that's easy to say when you haven't lost a limb or a relative. Why does he boast courage when no courage was demanded on his part? He is standing on the grief of others and beating his chest.
He goes on to say, "We don't frighten easily anymore." Maybe Friedman doesn't get scared, but I'm not afraid to admit that I'm afraid. What's wrong with fear? It's only out of fear that we can get riled up enough to defend against our aggressors.
Friedman tells us "to start training for the next marathon tomorrow." Thank you very much, but I'm not going near the New York Marathon. Until the police learn to control violence, I will stay away from crowds. I'm Jewish but I've never gone to Israel because I don't want to get blown up by some childish suicide bomber while the police dawdle and discuss the rights of terrorists.
I'm sure there are limbless victims who are not planning to train for another marathon soon. I don't know if Friedman has ever run one. He's certainly never boxed in Vegas (I have). Somehow he doesn't strike me as the athletic or heroic type.