10 Years After

A man shakes off the soot from the collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers after two hijacked commercial airliners crashed into the buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. Americans will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep on going.

I almost decided against writing a column about the upcoming anniversary of the darkest American day in the past 60 years or so. After all, what could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said? I remember 9/11 in vivid detail, but so does everyone born before 1996. I could scribble some maudlin verse, pulling the drapes on your soul for the day; but with the possible exception of the management of Dailykos.com and some of the population of Dearborn, Mich., everyone finds the memories of that foul day miserable already. Between now and Sept. 11, you’re going to be bombarded with every horrifying image the media can dredge up and plaster across your television screen.

Instead, I’m going to lighten the mood by speaking directly to the perpetrators of those dastardly deeds on that deadly day. Here’s hoping they have Wi-Fi in the caves of Waziristan, Pakistan.

All right, Islamofascists, pay attention when I say 9/11 was a big moment. I’ll admit it: You cleaned our clocks. Your act of bloodthirsty savagery brought the world to a halt. Even the Japanese, who still think World War II ended badly, had to have been impressed. And you have certainly marked us up since then. However, to deploy some of that sports colloquia of which we Americans are so fond: Have you looked at the scoreboard lately?

You blew it. If your goal was to divide us to the point of collapse, then I’ve got bad news, boys: All you did was change the subject. Sure, we’ve wrapped the rope of paranoia around our own necks, but we’ll never choke ourselves out; we’re pulling the noose in both directions. Our intramural fight has been roaring across the fruited plain since long before you waged your first jihad against the kid who took your falafel money back at the madrassa.

You also fumbled in the backfield when it came to scouting. You placed 19 of your best jihadists inside the United States. They learned to fly passenger jets; and even without bothering to learn superfluous details such as taking off and landing, that left a lot of time for strip clubs (which Mohammed Atta and the gang evidently exploited with vigor). Then, they commandeered four airplanes and hit the eastbound prayer rugs one last time before dragging 2,973 accursed infidels into the inferno.

I hate to burst your bubble, guys, but was that the best you could do? Years of planning, doubtless millions of dollars (in singles, of course) and down-to-the-minute execution, and your plan to bring Western society to its knees by striking at the heart of its greatest city couldn’t net a body count higher than the seating capacity at a minor league ballpark? Even factoring in the military heroes who have fallen since we began mowing you down, we’ve still given up fewer people than a good night at Madison Square Garden. In fact, you clowns are no longer a guaranteed sell for the lead story — especially if we’re taking one of our politicians down a notch.

We kill each other over a good place in line for the Thanksgiving doorbuster sale at Best Buy™. About a century and half ago, we fought a war during which we would bury 9/11’s worth in an hour. And that war was an intrasquad scrimmage. For that matter, take a look at our murder rate. For that matter, notice how many of your compatriots we’ve martyred in the past decade. From my perspective, the last thing you want to do when you see two guys outside your weight class throwing punches is to convince them to stop pounding on each other and come after you.

It took us 10 years (actually longer), but we finally treated your MVP to the proverbial dirt nap. Osama bin Laden hid from us in his gilded cage, but despite a national debate which makes your soccer riots look like an argument over who gets the last petit fours at the Junior League social, we still managed to air condition his cranium. We never quit. And we multitask: We stopped swatting at each other only long enough to start swatting you.

Add to that the fact that you’ve pretty much stamped your own expiration date. You either die when the plane hits the building, or you die when your explosives-laden van gets lit up by some Ranger sharpshooter, or you die when the Ranger sharpshooter pings you before you can start the explosives-laden van or, worse, we capture you. Waging jihad against the United States creates a pretty short career arc.

While it is certainly true that our nation is as divided as it has been since perhaps the end of the Civil War, I would venture that that division, while magnified by differing attitudes regarding the best response to Islamofascism, is just that: magnified, not created.

Perhaps that’s the best lesson for the potential terrorists — although, I expect their learning curve is flatter than the ratings curve for a Charlie Sheen comeback. We already hate each other, so trying to spook us with the Islamofascist version is merely going to grab our attention. And trust me, Akbar (or whatever), once you grab our attention, you might as well don the Semtex waistcoat — because not even Allah will save you (not that he was particularly interested to begin with). In a best-case (by your twisted standards) scenario, you only get waterboarded at Guantanamo Bay.

Ten years have passed, and look at what you’ve gained. Thousands of your fellow misfits are ululating in front of Allah. Actually, they probably aren’t ululating in front of Allah, unless he has taken a field trip to the underworld. You’re either living in caves or some godforsaken desert. Every time you leave your yurt, you have to look both ways for cruise missiles before crossing the goat path. The only countries willing to talk to you are hardly countries at all — unless someone did some serious cleanup in Somalia. We’ve made some errors since 9/11, but we can fix those with a relatively nonviolent election next November. I don’t like your odds of surviving to next November.

When I was a wee lad, my grandfather took me down to lower Manhattan to see the World Trade Center. Poppy and I stood underneath one of the towers and marveled at the illusion created by the stupendous height of the building: The tower was actually curving back over us. That was 35 years ago. You knocked down the building, and yet, I still remember that day with my grandfather as if it happened yesterday. You tried to take that memory from me, and you failed.

In response to 9/11, we took some steps which constitute overreaction. We scared the kids — and ourselves — a good bit. We even turned more of our rage against ourselves than is particularly healthy. Some Americans even cheer your madness. But we survived 9/11, and we will survive anything else you might try to hurl in our direction.

So, happy anniversary to Islamofascists near and far. We got you a present. If you peek outside the cave, you’ll probably see the delivery truck. It’s marked “U.S. Marines.” Enjoy.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.