I first found out about Jerry Falwell's comments about liberals and gays being largely responsible for the recent attacks from Jonathan when we spoke on the phone the other night. "He was censured," Jon said.

"He wasn't censured," Jon's wife shouted in the background. I have always suspected that she does not entirely trust the goyim.

"Yes he was," Jon shouted back. "He was totally censured."

"He was censured?" I asked mildly.

"Yes. I saw them censuring him on the news."

"Well, then. I guess it's my duty as a Christian to steal a Piper Cub and fly it into a building full of people."

Black humor. You gotta love it.

After I posted my daylog yesterday (what I have come to refer to as "some thoughts from a coward and a glutton") I spent the rest of the day thinking about the crossroads we've come to, and how our ancestors responded to similar crises.

I thought first about World War I. Now there's a hell of a confusing war; if I'd been alive then, I think my response would have been, "And we give a rat's ass why?". All those tottering colonial powers sending their best and brightest out to die in trenches, and for what? Yet when armed conflict became unavoidable, people somehow found the will to fight.

Then I remembered that it was the outcome of this war that led to the next one: the Treaty of Versailles, in which we allied powers decided to really fuck Germany over, dismantle her military, cripple her economy, and humiliate her people. That'll teach those damn Huns!

Only what resulted was a country full of hungry, poor, hate-filled people who found their salvation in a guy whose program involved taking over countries they considered to rightfully belong to their sacred Fatherland and killing Jews.

Was it partially our fault? Yes. But in the end, we had to fight this monster we ourselves had helped create. We should have acted differently at the end of the Great War, but we didn't. And now we were faced with an enemy who was only too happy to accept offers of peace as long as we let them continue taking over countries they considered to rightfully belong to their sacred Fatherland and, of course, kill Jews.

They played an excerpt of an interview with a Pakistani citizen who angrily insisted that he would never side with "nonbelievers and Jews." Seems that it always comes down to the Jews. Geez, one of the radio personalities said as if in echo to my own thoughts, it's like Nazis only with different accents.

For most of yesterday all I could do was focus on how we have contributed to this crisis. But on the other hand, the extremists in the Muslim countries have traditionally found it neccessary to kill us when we do things that most right-thinking people would agree do not neccessarily require the death penalty: like build bases, send them humanitarian aid, go on vacation, hand someone a Bible, play our Whitesnake albums where they can hear them, and allow our women to drive down their streets. Since we have yet to receive a message from them linking the World Trade Center attack to any specfific grievance, we must assume that the list now includes our simply breathing.

They just plain hate our guts. And are we partially responsible for that? Yes. All our actions in the region have been in the interests of keeping the oil flowing, and their people have suffered as a result. But now the immediate reality is that we find ourselves faced with an enemy for whom the horrible deaths of six thousand men, women, and children will not be enough. The perpetrators must be brought to trial, and the voices that come to us from the lands of the Middle East tell us that they will not stand for that.

I believe we must proceed calmly and rationally. We must avoid civilian deaths whenever possible. (Though Chomsky points out that cutting off aid to Afghanistan effectively condemns millions of its citizens to death by starvation.) We must do what we have to with the ultimate goals of peace and justice in mind, and never give in to the desire for revenge.

But, may God have mercy on us, it looks like we can't do it without shooting some folks.