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Remembering September 11th, 2001
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Most of us will remember where we were the morning of September 11th, 2001 for the rest of our lives, and how we felt as well.

I was getting on an elevator when a woman asked me if I'd heard about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I said no. I'd been listening to a book-on-tape on the way into work that morning. My first thought was that some goofball anti-globalization protestor had been flying a glider around the WTC and accidentally crashed into it. The truth, obviously, was much, much worse.

We all watched the carnage on TV that day, and then over and over in the weeks and months that followed. But when I think about 9/11, I usually picture in my mind those scenes that weren't shown on television. I think of the people in the four planes that were hijacked. I picture two young Middle-Eastern men walking up an aisle, box cutters palmed. I see them pushing out the blades with their thumbs, then grabbing a stewardess as she's pouring Sprite into a little plastic cup, and I see him rake the tiny blade across her throat. I see the other man grabbing another passenger or stewardess at the same time, and holding the blade to their throats, threatening to do the same. And I hear the passengers screaming.

We all saw the planes smash into the buildings and explode into fireballs, but I always wonder what it was like for the people in that section of the building. I think about the guy sitting on the john, reading a newspaper, or the woman stirring cream into her morning coffee, and wonder what it must have been like to hear the massive crash of the exterior walls caving in as a giant tube of steel rushed toward them and exploded.

I remember the revulsion and fear and anger that I felt that morning, and still feel every time I think about it. And I don't wonder what we did wrong, or how we could make the people who did this feel better, or why they hate us.

They (that is, Al Qaeda) hate us because that's who they are. That's all they are. If you're in any doubt as to their motivations, just listen to them. They want a world where a Caliph rules over a pure Muslim world, under the law of the Koran, and all the unbelievers are slaughtered. We got a good look at the way they want the world to be. That government was the Taliban. No tolerance, no contradictory points of view, no women's rights, no minority rights, no religious rights, no press, no television, no culture but that allowed by the Koran. This is their vision of the way the world should be.

They are not political dissidents, protesting American foreign policy, with valid points of view that need to be examined and pondered. They are murderous scum hellbent on imposing their fundamentalist vision on the world. And you don't placate or reason with such a mindset. You fight it.

We were at war before September 11th, but we just didn't know it. That morning pulled the conflict into much sharper focus, and the sides are now very clear. I heard some on the Left mock Bush for his assertion that you are either with us or with the terrorists. Well, where else could you be? There is no neutral ground in this conflict.

Our cultural, economic, and political centers were attacked that morning. We were attacked, by people that do not want us to change policy or understand them or shift our point of view. They want us dead, every man, woman, and child.

But that morning also gave us a lesson in how we should respond, from the earliest moments. The passengers on Flight 93 certainly weren't examining the root causes, or empathizing with the people who had just murdered the pilots and were flying them all to their deaths. They fought back. They were faced with people whose only interest was to slaughter them and as many other Americans as they could, and their response was not to cower in hand-wringing guilt or introspection, but to fight.

There are many lessons to take away from that morning, but ultimately, this is the one that matters most, and the one I try to remember every day.

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