Today, in a hallway, I heard someone say, "Damn it! I think we need to just get the whole military together and bomb the hell out of those damn Arabs!" His friend asked him which Arabs those were, and he replied, "Who cares? Bomb them all!"
I wondered momentarily if he was joking, but then I looked at him. He was red in the face and looked on the verge of screaming. Needless to say, he was serious. I turned away and tried to control the nauseous feeling growing inside of me.
I have to wonder, as bad as things are today (and without a doubt, the terrorist attacks today are among the worst things I've ever seen), are we going to make them worse tomorrow? Everyone is hurt, angry, worried, frightened. . . the absolute last thing we want to be right now. What is it with human beings that they feel this driving need to place blame? And more than just that, the need to see hurt visited upon others?
How is it that a very good friend of mine, who was born in the United States 22 years ago, and who happens to have Arab parents (who have been living in the US since before he was born), is suddenly looked at suspiciously, given dirty looks, and treated with barely disguised loathing? What is up with that? Are we so frightened now that we're willing to lash out at innocent Americans simply because they have darker skin and hair than some of us? And it's not just him. justjay just mentioned having similar experiences today.
For God's sake, we don't even know for sure that Arabs are involved! Remember back a few years ago, when Oklahoma City was bombed? The immediate conclusion that everyone came to was that "those Arab bastards" had done it. And yet, an actual investigation showed that to be false. And even if a group of Arabs are behind it, that sure as hell doesn't put them all at fault. No more so than the Oklahoma City bombing puts all Americans at fault.
It reminds me somewhat of the backlash that occurred after the Columbine shootings. Sure, the Columbine shootings were bad, but thousands of children across the country were practically terrorized and seriously mistreated after that, just for not fitting in with the "average" student. I have a long black duster (not a trench coat, but many people don't know the difference), and I got dozens of suspicious and unfriendly looks whenever I wore it in the months after Columbine. Are people unable to realize that business men have been wearing trench coats over their suits for decades? That the wearing of a freakin' coat doesn't make someone a killer?
I've heard the terrorist attacks compared to the Pearl Harbor bombings. Personally, I think that's a load of crap. The Pearl Harbor bombing was a deliberate war-time strike intended to draw the US and Britain (a similar attack on British colonies in Southeast Asia occurred at the same time) into the war. This is most likely not some political state attempting to draw us into war, but some fanatical group who's goal is to frighten us, worry us, and disrupt our lives. The Japanese attacked us with over 350 aircraft. This was the work of a few dozen (or so) people.
It's thrown around repeatedly now that "this is war!" But I can't help but think that "war" is a bad choice of words for this, IMO. You can't have a war without an opponent. . . and as it stands now, we don't have one. We don't know which country (or, perhaps more likely, if any country) had any real involvement in this. In all honestly, suicide bombings on this scale aren't really typical of a government project, partly because it's a lot harder to convince people to kill themselves for their country than for their God, and partly because terrorism like this is the absolute *worst* thing for international relations.
Did anyone else notice the affects today? Sure, the US went into a state of emergency, evacuated buildings, stopped flights, etc. But that wasn't all. Following fast on their heels, Canada, England, Japan, and most of the rest of Europe and much of Asia did the same. The reason for this is that terrorist attacks operate outside of the "accepted" rules. Even countries sympathetic with Afghanistan are likely to be somewhat unhappy with this turn of events, because terrorists like this can't be controlled. They'll go after anyone who gets in the way of them and their beliefs, and most of the world's governments are sitting there wondering if they might be next.
So, what will happen next? Will be begin tearing through the American public, looking for a cause at home? One of the worst things about a situation like this is that people are scared enough that they're willing to give up their freedom in order to feel safe. And that's a very dangerous slippery slope. As history has shown, it's much harder to regain rights lost, than to give them up. If we're not careful we could lose our way of life to ourselves because of our own fear.
Or perhaps we'll hold onto our anger stronger than our fear. Human nature says we have to have someone to blame. It doesn't matter whether or not they are truly at fault, we can't feel satisfied until we've shoved all of our problems, our misery, everything that's wrong with us onto someone else. And, once we've done that, we'll never be happy until we've made them pay. Pay for everything they've done that was wrong, everything we think was wrong, everything they might have done, and most importantly, they need to pay for everything that is our own fault, that we've pushed off onto them. Once we've bombed the bastards, then we can feel better. We need our revenge. After all, that's only fair, right? And we all know that life is always fair.
Bleh. I'm exhausted, and I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this. Perhaps I'm not going anywhere. I just can't help but wonder what the hell is wrong with us, the human race, when we are willing to kill thousands of innocent people as happened today. What is wrong with the human race when people celebrate the deaths of thousands? What the hell is wrong with the human race when we react out of fear and pain, and end up making the wound we've suffered even worse?
My heart goes out to those who've lost friends, loved ones, family members and others in the tragedy today. It also goes out to those still suffering, and to those who will suffer in the days ahead. Not just the victims of the initial attacks, but to all the soon-to-be victims of our inevitable knee-jerk reaction.
I only hope we don't pay a price more dear than that which the attack has already exacted from us.
What the hell is wrong with us?