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Posted by Paco ( on September 13, 2001 at 15:28:19:

I think this was published Wednesday, September 12, 2001 in the Miami Herald
by Leonard Pitts.


We'll go forward from this moment. It's my job to have something to say.
They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the
American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting
disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that
seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard. What lesson did you hope
to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon,
us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that
you failed. Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your
cause. Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve. Did you
want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a
family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family
nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional
energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's
misfortune, a cartoon mouse.

We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and
material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a
certain sense of blithe entitlement.

We are fundamentally decent, though -- peace-loving and compassionate. We
struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming
majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people, you, perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes us weak.
You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot
be measured by arsenals.

IN PAIN Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock.
We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still
working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from
some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy

Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final
death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of
terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of
the world.

You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before. But there's a
gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the
lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us
this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain.

When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When
provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any
cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice. I tell you this without
fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I
know reassures me.

It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers
pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be
done to prevent it from happening again.

There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic
freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But
determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

THE STEEL IN US You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent.
That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know
us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold. As Americans,
we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in
defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that
maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the
case, consider the message received.

And, take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know
what we're capable of. You don't know what you just, started. But you're
about to learn.

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