Monday, October 1, 2001

Still processing after all these days


By David Gewirtz

I've gotta tell you, I'm still processing all this stuff. It's been about three weeks since the triple play against the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and that plane out in western Pennsylvania. I still haven't quite gotten my thoughts in order and I know few who have.

I'm writing this in PalmPower because I think it still needs discussing. But I'll warn you upfront. This editorial is raw, intense, and edgy. If you're squeamish, this one might not be for you.

To me, this is a very local story. The World Trade Center is about 50 minutes from here, just up the Turnpike. There are cars parked in the lot at the nearby Princeton Junction train station that haven't moved since September 11.

The Pentagon is about three hours south of here. Managing Editor Denise Amrich and I were in Arlington, Virginia (which happens to be where the Pentagon is located) last week, attending a seminar. You could see the Combat Air Patrols being flown above Washington. When a caravan of what looked like bomb squad vehicles blasted down Embassy Row, right in front of us, we wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into.

During one of our seminar breaks, we had lunch with the spouse of a senior White House official. Apparently, she's a regular rider of DC's Metro (their subway), and, as she tells it, her husband thought it advisable to equip her with a portable gas mask canister, which she now carries everywhere.

So, I'm still processing. It's hard to know what to think. On one hand, I firmly believe that each terrorist needs to be caught and captured, and that the severed head of each and every one should be placed on a pole on the East Lawn of the White House as a warning to all would-be extremists not to screw with us.

On the other hand, I know America's not entirely blameless. This is a country capable of interring its Japanese-American citizens during World War II and committing near genocide on its Native American population. Our motivations in the Middle East are not completely altruistic.

America has its share of morons. There's the guy who decided to attack an unfortunate Indian lady with his car because she had brown skin and so did the terrorists. There's the host of Politically Incorrect, who was really politically incorrect at the wrong time. And the White House Press Secretary who was also politically incorrect in response, saying we should watch what we say.