On September 11th, 2001 the United States of America was attacked.
Not exactly news to anybody, I know, but bear with me for a moment.
911 has been compared, repeatedly and with great passion by many pundits and politicians, to the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the forces of Imperial Japan.
This comparison is wrong.
Here's the thing, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was part of a much, much larger strategic plan. The attack was intended to avert war, or more specifically a war of attrition in the Pacific. Experienced Japanese military planners knew they could not win a war that pitted their limited assets against the nearly endless might of the industrial West. The Empire of the Rising Sun was starved for resources and they could not fight a sustained conflict over the vast distances of the Pacific. Those military planners, raised in the Bushito tradition - modern day Samurai Warriors - were cold and calculating men educated in the ways of war and politics and power. They reasoned that, if properly executed, a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would disable America's military might long enough for Japan to secure a solid hold on the endless resources of Oceania. The Imperial Navy attacked the US Pacific Fleet in a calculated attempt to destroy or disable America's ability to influence political and economic events in the Pacific and to a lesser extent, Asia, for a specific and limited amount of time. With the American 3rd Fleet disabled or destroyed, Japan's conquest of Pacific resources would be a fait accompli by time the United States mustered the assets to do anything significant about it - especially since America was engaged in an ocean war in the North Atlantic and would soon be fully engaged on the ground in Europe. That opening bid, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, was backed by the entire might of the Japanese military and, as I said above, was only one piece of a much, much larger plan. Fortunately for America, and unfortunately for the Samurai, the Gods of War are fickle and as luck or fate or conspiracy theorists would have it, the single most important assets, the targets that the Japanese absolutely had to destroy - i.e. the American aircraft carriers - were not present in the fleet basin that day. And that single set of circumstances directly precipitated the very war of attrition the Japanese feared. That war was long and hard, bloody and heartbreakingly difficult -and for the first two years the outcome was in serious doubt. Despite the tactical failure of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese could still very well have achieved their overall strategic goals. They did take and hold, at least briefly, American territory and the struggle to force the Japanese from their Aleutian footholds in Alaska was one of the most difficult, costly, and bloody campaigns of the entire war. The forces of Imperial Japan were true warriors, cold and ruthless by our standards, but professional soldiers, sailors, and airmen nonetheless. They held to an ancient code of honor and sacrifice in the service of an ideal, the ideal of Empire, and they very nearly won. Their strength, combined with that of the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, could very well have taken much of the world, including the United States. It is important to understand that Imperial Japan was a very, very real threat, both to individual Americans and more importantly to America itself.
And that, right there, is the difference between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of 911.
See, the terrorists are amateurs. They are not warriors. They are not soldiers, or sailors, or airmen. They are not Marines. They are not professionals. There are no armies, or navies, or air forces to back them up. They can hide in the dark corners of the world, but they cannot walk openly or proudly in the street. They are rats, vermin, feral dogs, cockroaches, and nothing more. They can snipe around our ankles. They can threaten our individual citizens - a handful at a time. They can take down an airplane, or a building, or a subway. They can instill fear in politicians and children and the ignorant and the cowards. But they cannot, cannot, destroy America.
The terrorists are a one dimensional threat. 911 was not part of a larger, strategic plan - it was the whole plan. Period. Osama bin Laden said it himself, more than once - the goal is to instill fear and terror. Nothing more. Even in his wildest 40-virgin-and-lamb-kabob-in-Paradise wet dream, bin Laden doesn't believe for one minute that he or his organization can actually bring down the free nations of the world.
The terrorists are nothing but pissants, hiding in caves and holes and the cracks of the world. Filthy, cowardly little bullies who are terrified, absolutely terrified, of us. Terrified of freedom, terrified of free people, terrified of everything and everybody and each other. They boast and brag and swagger, like bullies always do, hoping against hope that nobody notices just how utterly insignificant they truly are. Nowhere is this more apparent than when they are finally run to ground. They'll send their lickspittles and mindless dupes out to fight, but they themselves? They are almost always found hiding in a hole, cowering in the dark, pissing their robes and praying to God for deliverance. From Hitler to Saddam, it's always the same. They are, at their core, cowards - just like all bullies. The only power a terrorist has is terror, behind that facade is nothing. Terrorists have power for one reason and one reason only - because they are given it by those they oppress.
I've known some truly tough men in my life. Real, no shit, tough men. Men who can, and often have, killed others with their bare hands. Professionals. Steel eyed snake eating motherfuckers, every last one. Here's the funny thing, never once did I see those men act the bully. They were rough and tough and they knew it. They didn't have to prove anything to anybody. Those kind of men are not always easy to spot, they are the ones who don't brag, don't swagger, don't threaten, and don't start shit in a bar just to prove their manhood or to defend the honor of the corps. You start something with those men, and they don't talk shit, they don't banter back and forth, they don't get insulted, they don't have to work themselves up - they just confidently kill your ass and go back to what they were doing. And that's the difference between truly tough men and punk assed bullies, between terrorists and professionals, between free people and sheep.
There are two ways to deal with a bully - any school kid knows this. You can either stand the hell up for yourself or you can knuckle under. And if you knuckle under, then the bully owns your ass. But the decision is always yours to make, the power is always, always, in your hands. The bully has no power over you - unless you chose to give him that power. When you give into fear and terror and cowardice, you give up your freedom.
In 1941, our leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in particular, knew this. FDR stood before Congress on December 8th, 1941 and gave a speech, the words of which have echoed down through the last six decades of history - We have nothing to fear, but fear itself! And he was right. Those words and the actions they inspired galvanized our nation and the free people of the world over. Our enemies, those Samurai, the Nazis, and the Fascists, they could attack us, they could kill our people, they could bomb our cities, sink our ships, shoot down our airplanes, they could throw their armies against us - but they could not make us fear them. A feeble, sick, crippled man in a wheel chair looked them square in the face and spit in their eye and rallied America behind him and our grandparents went out and ground those who had attacked us into the dust.
The terrorists today have power. The power of the bully and the bogeyman. A handful of cowardly men, these ignorant, hateful, unorganized, raggedy-assed sheep herders have power over us, over our minds, over our lives, over our nation for one reason and one reason only - because we, and our fearful leaders, have given it to them. When we allow this, or this, or this, or this, or any of the hundred things we've done to debase ourselves and dishonor our nation since 911 we give the terrorists the very power they so desperately crave. When we allow our leaders to entertain the mere idea of this, we have handed our freedom, and our destiny, directly over to those that are far, far worse than an insignificant little turd like bin Laden.
On September 11th, 2001, four US civilian airliners were hijacked by a handful of men with nothing more than box-cutters. Three of those planes reached their targets and killed thousands, hundreds of thousands if you include all that has followed to date. But onboard one of those planes, Americans stood up to the hijackers. They fought back. They forced their way into the cockpit and took back the plane. Yes, they died, those Americans - but they took the terrorists straight to hell with them. In the end, there in that field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, it was the hijackers who died screaming in fear. Not as martyrs. Not as freedom fighters. Not as heroes. No, they died powerless, screaming in fear and terror. Nothing, not their hatred, not their belief, not their God could save them there in the end when common Americans rose up and refused to give up their freedom.
The terrorists, these fatherless sons of whores, can rage and posture and dance, but they can't make us afraid.
Only we can do that.
It is time, long past time, for us as Americans and for all other freedom loving peoples of the world to stand up and take back that which is rightfully ours. It is time for our leaders to stand up and say no more, we will not give in to fear, we will not give in to terror, we will not knuckle under. These men are nothing, they are no threat to us as a people. They cannot take our nation away from us. It is time to grind Osama bin Laden and his band of cowards into the dust of history and think no more of him.
And it is long past time for Americans to take back America from the cowards who sit in Washington today.