Friday, October 5

This is a crucial moment in countless respects, more numerous for one person to understand. Cultures, ideologies, pardigms are clashing, and in the force of striking each other, are being stripped to a revealing core.

The commentary and analysis crowds my computer screen, and I can't keep up. It's all so interesting, so bracing, so full of "ah-ha" moments in which you think you have the whole situation clarified, only to be brought back down by the next commentator.

Some random thoughts: Even as I've gone through some torturous conscience-scraping (as if I, personally, have a decision to make about where and when to lob the bombs - but - as I've said elsewhere - this is a democratic republic. I voted for these guys. So it is my responsibility to figure out a stance), I, like many, have grown impatient with the apparently slow progress of the response to the attacks.

But then, as I was reading a piece about the video bin Laden has released showing the celebration of the alliance of his al Qaeda and the Egyptian Jihad, it struck me...of course.

They will retaliate. As soon as we strike, they will retaliate, and they will do it on our soil. They're already here (at least until the arrest of hundreds over the past weeks), and it's obvious this is the plan - to draw our attention and resources to striking back over there, thinking that we will then be unprepared to deal with their retaliatory car and truck bombings of our power plants, poisoning of our water supplies, and so on.

I have no doubt, upon pondering this, that what has been going on over the past weeks is not only what they say is going on - pinning down responsibility, gathering allies, finding the culprits - but also something else - clearing out suspected terrorists, putting and keeping them in jail, shoring up defenses of power plants, water supplies and major roads (and whatever other targets are out there) - so that the chances of this planned retaliation are considerably lessened. Don't you think this is part of what's happening?

The other part of it, thought - and this is where it gets really tricky - is while the general citizenry needs to be on alert, the powers-that-be are obviously convinced that too much alertness would have a negative impact, as paranoia always does - they clearly want to avoid the divisiveness of xenophobia, as well as the catastrophic economic consequences of a total halt of normal daily life. But here's the other side: it seems as if, for the past ten years, our government has not been doing what it should and could have done to protect us from this kind of attack. Knowing this, you can't fault the citizenry for being cautious to the point of paranoia, sensing, as it does, that government hasn't been doing its real job, distracted as it has been by buying votes through handing out entitlements.

This is, truly, a different sort of war - the enemy forces have been among us all along, eating at Pizza Hut, and shopping at Wal-mart, just waiting. Not to be paranoid or anything, but...

This isn't what I started to write about. What I started to ponder was the meltdown of relativism. (Oh, how carefully we select our words now. It's harder than it looks to think of words to describe the destruction of something in this context without it seeming as if you're just relying on cheap WTC - tinged metaphors. Collapse of relativism? Nope. Crash and burn? No. Can't say them. Don't really want to.).

Baby's crying, so I just have time to say - this is where multiculturalists and relativists meet their match: in defiantly anti-Western forces which would shut down their universities, strip them of their grants, and (if they're women) shroud them in a veil and punish them for reading a book. Tolerate this.

Today is the feastday of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, an American saint you've probably never heard of. Well, he wasn't born in America, but he did minister here as a Redemptorist, working in a number of locations, from Pennsylvania to New Orleans, where he died in 1867. One interesting point: he was proposed as bishop of Pittsburgh, but declined. You can read more about him here.
This is scary, as well as infuriating. Perhaps you'd already heard this, but it was news to me - actor James Woods thinks (with good reason, I believe) that he had an encounter with some of the terrorists a month before the attack - he was on one of the Boston-LA flights (returning from visiting his mother), alone in first class, except for four "Middle-Eastern" looking men. The men - here's the thing - never ate or drank anything on the trip (cross-country, remember), didn't sleep or read. They just sat, looked straight ahead, and ocassionally spoke quietly to one another. Woods thought this was very strange, said something to the flight attendant, who shrugged it off. When he got to LA, he said something to airport authorities, who also shrugged it off. Let that sink in for a minute. I haven't heard more about this story - if indeed the names of those passengers were the names of the terrorists - I would tend to think that they must be, or else we would have heard confident reassurances from airline and airport authorities. It makes sense for them to try to keep this quiet, for fear of a backlash against such idiocy. For a link to a news article about this, click here . For the John Derbyshire column in which I read about this, click here.

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