The phone rang. I still had a landline in those days. It was early but the sun had risen in Las Vegas and I would have woken up in a few minutes anyway.
It was my assistant in Chicago to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As we were talking a second plane hit. We knew this was no accident but an attack. Now all that was necessary was for the details to emerge, details that we all now know only too well.
For weeks, even months after 9/11, I remember walking around with a certain numbness. The fact that I knew three of the New York victims personally only added to that as the names of the victims became known. It took years for that stunned feeling to dissipate, although it has never completely left me. And now, owing to the atrocities in Paris, that same feeling that eviscerates any sense that this is a world in which good ultimately will triumph over evil has crept back over me.
It would seem to be insensitive if not barbaric to discuss the Friday night attacks by ISIS savages in terms of politics. We don’t yet have a body count and only a few of the victims have been identified. And there are many more in the hospital with critical wounds. There has hardly been an appropriate time for mourning those who were lost and no one has yet been buried.
But the Parisian murders were motivated by politics and if we are to minimize the number of similar episodes in the future it seems to me that is the place to start. I say minimize because it is highly unlikely if not virtually impossible for us completely to eliminate the threat that radical Islam poses to civilization and the world as we know it.
We truly need to have an honest, open and meaningful debate as to the best way to deal with this, the greatest threat to humankind that has ever existed. And we need to have that conversation soon. But, out of respect for those who were taken, today is not that day.
“Ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us to God; and may that same God whose nature is true Compassion and perfect Love have mercy on those who brought you to your glory.”
– [extract] XIV’th century Syriac Orthodox Litany