Science Fiction Book Club
September 19, 2001
Murder defies reason.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, I've heard and read a lot of talk about how the United States should respond. Some say our government should re-evaluate its foreign policies. I've heard people rattling on about how we Americans should try to understand why people in other parts of the world hate us. I've read editorials urging the U.S. government to force Israel to make peace with Palestine.
These are all interesting proposals, but they address the wrong issues.
What happened last Tuesday was a tragedy and a disaster. But more importantly, it was a crime. It was murder.
Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being, especially with malice aforethought. There are situations where you can commit homicide and suffer no disgrace. Self-defense against an immediate, physical threat, for example. But murder crosses the line.
The United States is not, as some have said, "reaping what we have sown" because of "our monstrous foreign policies." It confounds me that so many Americans seem eager to mitigate the loathsome actions of the criminals who killed thousands of people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. There is never a "good reason" for murder. Murder defies reason.
The attack on New York's World Trade Center was nothing more or less than murder. This was not "collateral damage"-- there was no other, military target nearby. The perpetrators voluntarily and deliberately targeted innocent civilians with their violence. And that crosses the line.
The students who killed fifteen people at Columbine High School in 1999 were murderers. The men who bombed Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 were murderers. The "Unabomber" was a murderer. Serial killers are murderers. Adolf Hitler was a murderer.
Let's not dilute our descriptions of the events of September 11th, or aggrandize them with some special terminology. I've seen newscasters struggle with labeling these events-- attacks, bombings, hijackings, terrorism?
Let's call a spade a spade. It was mass murder, murder in the first degree. And murder demands justice. Not vengeance, not retribution: justice.
We are not at war, nor should we be. We are conducting a criminal investigation. We are enforcing the laws of New York City, the District of Columbia, the United States of America, and the entire civilized world.
We are hunting down a group of criminals, religious fanatics who shame their countrymen and beliefs with their own abominable ideas and illegal actions. It is our duty to apprehend these murderers and their accomplices, wherever they may be, and punish them to the full extent that our laws allow.
Murder defies reason. Justice upholds reason.
Since no one else seems to be doing this... I would like to express my gratitude, admiration, and respect for the air traffic controllers all across North America who safely landed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilian aircraft within hours on the morning of September 11, 2001. They did a difficult job well, and probably saved lives doing it, and I want to thank them. They are heroes.
Remember the dead. NEVER FORGET.