TIME article calling for "extermination"

Borba100 at aol.com Borba100 at aol.com
Sat Sep 15 14:21:45 MDT 2001


TIME, Sep. 12, 2001
The Case for Rage and Retribution
What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American 
fury — a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two
BY LANCE MORROW



For once, let’s have no “grief counselors” standing by with banal 
consolations, as if the purpose, in the midst of all this, were merely to 
make everyone feel better as quickly as possible. We shouldn’t feel better. 

For once, let’s have no fatuous rhetoric about “healing.” Healing is 
inappropriate now, and dangerous. There will be time later for the tears of 
misfortune note. 

A day cannot live in infamy without the nourishment of rage. Let’s have rage. 
What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American 
fury—a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two, 
wandering off into Prozac-induced forgetfulness or into the next media 
sensation (O.J. … Elián … Chandra …) or into a corruptly thoughtful 
relativism (as has happened in the recent past, when, for example, you might 
hear someone say, “Terrible what he did, of course, but, you know, the 
Unabomber does have a point, doesn’t he, about modern technology?”). 

Let America explore the rich reciprocal possibilities of the fatwa. A policy 
of focused brutality does not come easily to a self-conscious, 
self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention 
span. America needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident 
relentlessness—and to relearn why human nature has equipped us all with a 
weapon (abhorred in decent peacetime societies) called hatred. 

As the bodies are counted, into the thousands and thousands, hatred will not, 
I think, be a difficult emotion to summon. Is the medicine too strong? Call 
it, rather, a wholesome and intelligent enmity—the sort that impels even such 
a prosperous, messily tolerant organism as America to act. Anyone who does 
not loathe the people who did these things, and the people who cheer them on, 
is too philosophical for decent company. 

It’s a practical matter, anyway. In war, enemies are enemies. You find them 
and put them out of business, on the sound principle that that’s what they 
are trying to do to you. If what happened on Tuesday does not give Americans 
the political will needed to exterminate men like Osama bin Laden and those 
who conspire with them in evil mischief, then nothing ever will and we are in 
for a procession of black Tuesdays. 

This was terrorism brought to near perfection as a dramatic form. Never has 
the evil business had such production values. Normally, the audience sees 
only the smoking aftermath 

—the blown-up embassy, the ruined barracks, the ship with a blackened hole at 
the waterline. This time the first plane striking the first tower acted as a 
shill. It alerted the media, brought cameras to the scene so that they might 
be set up to record the vivid surreal bloom of the second strike (“Am I 
seeing this?”), and then—could they be such engineering geniuses, so deft at 
demolition?—the catastrophic collapse of the two towers, one after the other, 
and a sequence of panic in the streets that might have been shot for a remake 
of The War of the Worlds or for Independence Day. Evil possesses an instinct 
for theater, which is why, in an era of gaudy and gifted media, evil may 
vastly magnify its damage by the power of horrific images. 

It is important not to be transfixed. The police screamed to the people 
running from the towers, “Don’t look back!”—a biblical warning against the 
power of the image. Terrorism is sometimes described (in a frustrated, 
oh-the-burdens-of-great-power tone of voice) as “asymmetrical warfare.” So 
what? Most of history is a pageant of asymmetries. It is mostly the 
asymmetries that cause history to happen—an obscure Schickelgruber nearly 
destroys Europe; a mere atom, artfully diddled, incinerates a city. Elegant 
perplexity puts too much emphasis on the “asymmetrical” side of the phrase 
and not enough on the fact that it is, indeed, real warfare. Asymmetry is a 
concept. War is, as we see, blood and death. 

It is not a bad idea to repeat a line from the 19th century French anarchist 
thinker Pierre-Joseph Prou-dhon: “The fecundity of the unexpected far exceeds 
the prudence of statesmen.” America, in the spasms of a few hours, became a 
changed country. It turned the corner, at last, out of the 1990s. The menu of 
American priorities was rearranged. The presidency of George W. Bush begins 
now. What seemed important a few days ago (in the media, at least) became 
instantly trivial. If Gary Condit is mentioned once in the next six months on 
cable television, I will be astonished. 

During World War II, John Kennedy wrote home to his parents from the Pacific. 
He remarked that Americans are at their best during very good times or very 
bad times; the in-between periods, he thought, cause them trouble. I’m not 
sure that is true. Good times sometimes have a tendency to make Americans 
squalid. The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world from 
the uncivilized. This is the moment of clarity. Let the civilized toughen up, 
and let the uncivilized take their chances in the game they started. 
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