The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Thursday, October 14, 2004

John Kerry has been getting a lot if criticism over his statement in a New York Times Magazine interview that he wants to go back to a time when terrorism was just a "nuisance". This was one of a multitude of his politically tone-deaf statements. Tom Friedman, however, agrees with Kerry that we should return to those days (whenever they were), and also thinks that Bush and Cheney have over-politicized 9/11.
The idea that President Bush and Mr. Cheney would declare such a statement to be proof that Mr. Kerry is unfit to lead actually says more about them than Mr. Kerry. Excuse me, I don't know about you, but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.
Unfortunately for Tom, that is not really possible. Terrorism has existed for a long time, but only recently has it grown into more than just one man with a bomb. Terrorism, as a tactic, has completely been absorbed by the Islamic world as the answer to all their problems. And having allowed it to continue, and in fact to be rewarded (think Arafat and the PA), we have created something that can not be just a nuisance until we achieve victory over the Islamofascist ideology. And as Arnold Ahlert points out, how do we define nuisance?
And I suspect that other relatively large-scale instances — the Beslan school massacre, the Madrid train bombings, the Bali nightclub bombing and a couple of the more effective insurgent bombings in Iraq — would also be considered "too much."

But what about some of the "lesser" terror events in which a relatively small number of people were killed? The attack on the USS Cole, the murder of the pregnant Israeli women and her four daughters, and the burnings and hangings of Americans in Fallujah spring to mind — "just" 19, 5 and 4 deaths respectively.

Smaller? How about the execution of reporter Daniel Pearl, or wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer pushed off the deck of the Achille Lauro, or any of the beheadings in Iraq that resulted in only one death per "event"? Have we gotten to "nuisance level" yet, Sen. Kerry?
But neither Tom nor John Kerry can really answer that question.
I wish Mr. Kerry were better able to articulate how America is going to get its groove back. But the point he was raising about wanting to put terrorism back into perspective is correct. I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July.
Once again, Tom decides to close his eyes and dream. Sept. 11 was more than "about them", it actually is about us. It is the day that we (at least some of us) finally realized that there is a war going on, and that it has been raging for a few years. It is a war against all of us in the civilized world. And whether Tom likes it or not, it does define us. Like Kennedy's assassination defined that generation, or Pearl Harbor the generation before, 9/11 defined our generation. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when the Twin Towers fell. We can't just close our eyes and pretend that the threat doesn't exist.
|| Nudnik 12:33 PM
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