The Breakfast Table

Pointless? No, Political

Dear John,

A lot of the news coverage makes reference to this horrible attack as an “act of war,” with some comparing it to Pearl Harbor. The comparison doesn’t stand for long–the most obvious difference being , in this instance, we don’t know who our enemy is. That all of the signs point to radical Islamic militants puts us as fundamental odds with a significant portion of the world’s population. It is important, I feel, to keep in mind the word radical, so as not to broadly indict all Islamic people. I don’t think we can afford to lose sight that this was a political act. What we view as an insane, dastardly, nightmarish, pointless act of terrorism for terrorism’s sake is actually to the enemy a successful political act. To understand the politics we need to look at the origins of the war and understand that it is not a war driven by territorial disputes and fought by standing armies but hatred for our arrogant display of power and our seeming callous indifference to the rest of the word’s humanity. Then I think we can, as you say, begin to address “the deeper problems that made for this fanatic hate.” In order for something stronger to emerge from the ashes it is going to take a greater understanding of what was there in the first place.