Nine-Eleven: styles in terrorism don’t change

As we contemplate the events of Nine-Eleven fifteen years ago today, I was thinking about what the attackers must have had as the goal that they could achieve through this atrocity. I find it as tiresome and dreary as the impossible ambitions that all extremists have. Terrorists are always looking for that one crushing blow that will silence their opposition once and for all. Thus I continue to feel sure that the attack on the World Trade Center was meant to destroy the American government, as foolish as that sounds.

In primitive cultures around the world, you win the war by killing the chief (and hopefully his family). Aiming simultaneous attacks on the White House and the Pentagon tells us that the childish ambition of the Nine-Eleven conspirators was to destroy the American government. And then they thought they could put–what, may I ask?–in its place.

Look at a map of Europe and you will see how idiotic it was for the Third Reich’s officials to think they could govern an entire continent. Compare the little island chain of Japan to the continental behemoth called China, and you wonder what the Emperor was sipping in his tea. And so on, as ambitions silence common sense, except for one thing.

Today’s extremists who dream of making America a theocracy are committing those same errors–the exact same errors. First they underestimate the opposition–that is, you and me and the thousands of normal Americans who maintain the attitude of live and let live. Racism helps in this, wouldn’t you say? Pretend that your opposition is inferior and you will never know him–or what he could do to resist oppression. Americans who read Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver get hints of this in their writings.

American terrorists also grossly overestimate themselves. We saw this when the Bundy Boys were unable to take the rigors of life in unattended buildings, even though they were not treated as harshly as they might have been. But their daily runs to convenience stores for those drinks that wrapped them in belly fat could not be forgone.

The news now contains hints of terrorist organizations collapsing from within as they sink into a maze of drugged stupor and lose their leaders as the pursuit gets more and more effective. Personally I think they have peaked already–those child soldiers are on the front lines because able-bodied men are getting scarce. And when you look at the “militant” Republican movement, the number of old men is only surpassed by the young ones who can’t button their jeans and always have a beer at their side. The idea that these people are dangerous is to be understood only if we consider them a danger to themselves long before they get around to “others.”

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