The Civilized Mind
The London bombings pose a question concerning society’s civilized mind and how much at risk it may find itself in these fragile times.
The terrorist tradecraft is just that---terror---that’s their product and the way to successfully spread terror against a civilian population is to make nothing safe. The goal is to keep the collective social nerves edgy and jumpy. As al Qaeda morphs into becoming less an organization and more a philosophy, some pretty strange stuff is bound to happen and the point of it all will be to keep social order off-balance.
A Bali-type bombing against some place kids congregate will immediately create tremendous tension between kids and their parents about who goes where, when and under what circumstances. Two or three sidewalk café explosions in a place like Vegas will virtually shut down that venue, as would a Disney event. Blowing stuff up is easy. Seed that kind of warfare across America or the European Continent and you’ll very quickly create a backlash against any Muslim in any circumstance in any city.
That will be the true disaster.
People of Color will take on a whole new meaning as roaming bands of non-Muslim thugs retaliate against that which they only vaguely understand. The first murmurings of religious intolerance and hatred across dinner tables will mark the beginning of our loss in this struggle.
To a very large degree it’s a numbers game and the numbers are outrageously disproportionate to the advantage of terrorists. One one-thousandth of 1% of Americans were killed at the Trade Center and yet the country is nervous nearly four years later and that nervousness escalates with every ass-covering warning from Homeland Security.
The disproportion of those numbers is quite likely to destroy our civilized mind and turn us against ourselves. Unless we recognize the threat for what it is and refuse the cost terror assesses. It’s a price we dare not pay. In order to help us not pay it, our Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious leaders must absolutely get out in front of the coming backlash.
I hope to see a unified organization of such leaders whose job it will be to constantly counter and remark upon terrorist exploitations across the world. Support between and among themselves must include every branch of every faith and they must certainly be in the front-line of response to unfolding events.
On television. Often. Unrelentingly opposed to the forces that would have them take up arms against one another.
Osama bin Laden’s original and most deadly intent was to turn Christian against Muslim in a 21st century version of the Crusades. Every single incident involving a Muslim or Muslim-look-alike attacked on an American or European street will be evidence of Osama’s victory over our civilized mind.
Cardinal Egan, Billy Graham, Dali Lama, holy men of all faiths, where are you in this moment of ecumenical opportunity? You, and perhaps only you, can refuse Osama bin Laden’s organizing premise.