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Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2001 / 24 Elul, 5761

Michael Long

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Bleeding time -- TUESDAY, I was afraid. Today, I am enraged. I want to feel the sticky blood of our enemies under my fingernails; I want to taste their sinew on my teeth. Now is the moment to rain hell.

Whatever happens to these demons will not be enough. Thousands of innocents are dead-thousands who did nothing but get up in the morning and go about their business. I would be surprised if most of them could find the godforsaken home of these warrior bastards on a map.

I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a country pastor. My folks taught me gentility and turning the other cheek, and so I live with a conflict inside between patience for G-d's own action and the forces of the world that seem to demand violence and retaliation to keep their evil contained. There's the struggle: turn the other cheek, or respond with overwhelming force? Are Christian principles so delicate, so tuned to an ideal world, that wise governments cannot adhere to them? I believe in those principles, yet I do not trust my own meek interpretations of them enough to abandon tanks, bombs and jet fighters. Maybe I'm all wrong, but that is where I stand.

I live a dozen miles from the Pentagon; I drive past it on those days when I go into Washington-just about everyone in this part of Northern Virginia does, too. Washington is where we live and work, and to have it laid open this way is beyond terrifying. Yet the lottery-style deaths in these events are not the worst part.

What is scary about all this is the view we got of the abyss on which we have blithely stood for so long. Imagine if this attack had been with chemical or biological weapons, which are far worse than nuclear weapons. If our enemies can hijack four airplanes and fly them into buildings, they can even more easily launch deadly airborne agents by emptying a cardboard box into the wind.

Compared to that kind of attack, this week's body count would be reduced to digits on the right side of the decimal point.

Anthrax, smallpox, ebola, VX, sarin. If it is horrible to die in a plane crash into the side of a building, just imagine death by blister, hemorrhage, or drowning in one's own bodily fluids as we run for cover-to where? Where does one hide from the sky?

I realize that to those who don't live in New York or Washington, all this may seem overheated. But those of us who are here now feel the fear in our bones, and we are terrified at the reality of our utter exposure. It feels like a terrible dream.

I pray for the victims and their families, but I also pray for America's resolve, and for this in particular: that our people will rise up and literally demand blood for this. We cannot allow our leaders to calm us out of our righteous anger-I do not want to be calmed, and neither should you. I want to see every nation and entity with any link to this act in any way annihilated from the face of the earth-all of them; completely, utterly, without exception or mercy. I want them so flattened that people will quake to even mention-even think-of their memory for a thousand years.

If we fail to respond with shocking and disproportionate force, somebody else will do all this again. And again. And again. And then the U.S. will be just like those third-world countries where the local version of Chuck E. Cheez gets blown to powder every month or two and the people shrug their shoulders and the diplomats harrumph and then everybody goes home and eats dinner and hides in the dark.

Enough moral relativism; enough half measures. It is time to extinguish-extinguish-the depraved cultures that would celebrate in the streets the death of thousands of innocents. It is bleeding time.

JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Michael Long