Even before the World Bank and International Monetary Fund postponed their fall meetings in Washington, most of the protesters had already announced that they would not gather that weekend in DC. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the country, the endeavor seemed inappropriate.
One group, however, was not about to allow the cancellation of the meetings ruin their plans for a demonstration. Recasting their event as a call for healing and reconciliation, they went ahead with their scheduled agenda. What an irony: business as usual!
I have made a continual call for us not to ignore the challenges and demands of our world that existed on September 10. The terrorist attack may have nabbed our attention, but the inequities of society and their human toll did not disappear in this time of national emergency.
What is the difference between my stance and the determination of the aforementioned protesters?
The mark of disrespect for our national tragedy is to exploit it. E-bay managed, in less than twelve hours, to scuttle the profiteers who placed chunks of the World Trade Center up for bid. But the dust had barely settled in lower Manhattan and Arlington when pundits and politicos were busy plying their “proof” that each one had been right all along. Somehow, the liberal left knew that we were asking for the attack through our cultural imperialism and the radical right predicted the inevitable long ago when they identified our neglect of stronger moral and military might. And, of course, most to blame is United States policy toward Israel. Or not.
There is good reason to do a national cheshbon hanefesh/soul searching about this looming global conflict. And there is nothing more important than a response as carefully planned and targeted as the attack that prompts it. Every aspect and every perspective should be considered. But it is precisely our free and open society that has allowed these debates to occur that we seek to preserve. There is no more reason to succumb to simplistic and extreme pronouncements After than there was in the halcyon days Before. It was, after all, simplistic and extreme leadership that sent those planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Those who wipe their tears and then shout “I told you so” dishonor the deliberative nature of true democracy, and by their apocalyptic warnings about disregarding the One True Answer attempt to paralyze a considered American response. They turn the murder of 6500 innocents into a sacrifical offering to their ideology.
Listen carefully to every voice you hear. But when it comes to terrorism, be suspicious of anyone who uses it as an excuse for business as usual.