The course is clear: Strike with no mercy
By GREG HAMILTON
© St. Petersburg Times,
Bodies were falling hundreds of feet from burning buildings. Mothers and fathers were crushed under untold tons of steel and concrete. Heroic rescue workers ignored their own safety and rushed to help the trapped and injured, only to be killed for their efforts.
And half a world away, there was dancing in the streets.
If you believe that there is a God, if you feel that there are angels among us and that miracles happen, then you must also acknowledge the existence of evil. On Tuesday, Americans confronted the handiwork of the devil.
The perpetrators of the horrors that visited New York and Washington, D.C., have been called cowards and psychopaths, but those names seem too tame for the acts they have committed. They are devils incarnate -- the lowest form of humanity imaginable.
As the mood of America shifts from shock and horror to rage and bloodlust, the despicable criminals win. They have commandeered our airplanes and our attention, and they are intent on changing our very nature. They are succeeding if we respond too quickly in ceding civil rights in the interest of civilian safety; if we stop talking about helping others around the world and consider building walls around this country.
That said, my instincts lead me to one conclusion: Hit back, hard.
We have the largest arsenal in the world, right? Unleash it.
What's the use of being the world's strongest nation if we don't use our might to protect ourselves? We've tried diplomacy and appeasement, only to be laughed at. We've tried to be the world's policemen, but no one respects us because we never back up our threats.
The frustration, of course, is that we want revenge, but against whom? All signs point to a certain bearded, millionaire pile of manure wrapped in robes and hate, but we lack the smoking gun, so to speak.
I'm guessing that we'll get that confirmation soon, and then our course is clear: They want to go to their maker? Help 'em get there.
The architects of this terror were making statements, and they made sure that we would hear them all day long by timing their attacks to ensure maximum television exposure. And just as it was no coincidence that the hijacked planes bore the names American and United, it's no surprise that the targets were towering symbols of American might.
The World Trade Center is, or was, unique among buildings because so many people around the country either have visited the buildings or know someone who worked there.
For me, it's my brother Brian. Several years ago, he worked in the WTC. Now, his office is elsewhere in Manhattan. Just blocks from Ground Zero.
On Tuesday, in between directing news coverage in Inverness, I tried repeatedly to phone his office. It was impossible to get through but every chance I got, I tried his number. I tried not to think of the worst as the hours went by.
Finally, late in the day, he called. Shaken, dazed, but alive.
"It's like a nuclear winter," he said, describing the drifts of concrete powder and dust blowing through the narrow streets, blotting out the noonday sun.
He was lucky -- he was alive. He worried about friends and neighbors who left for work as usual Tuesday morning, not knowing that within two hours, they would be murdered.
For millions of America, the attacks on this country are still somewhat abstract. They see the devastation, but it doesn't really affect their lives directly.
For me, the Tuesday of Terror is personal. They attacked my family.
Let someone else fret about diplomacy. My feelings are crystal clear.
Identify the perpetrators, then incinerate them. All of 'em.
And we can start with those devils dancing in the streets on Tuesday.
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