Six years ago, I became a racist.
No, really. It's true. I'm not proud to admit it, but it's the truth. On September 10th, my attitude was, "Well, Islam has its radicals, but you can't really blame the people or the religion for it. After all, it's not fair to assume all Christians are like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, now is it?"
But September 12th? "Animals. They're all fucking animals. We need to kill every last one of them, and mount their heads on pikes as a warning to the next ten generations that YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH AMERICA. And Osama bin Laden's skull will be turned into a festive chalice for the President to drink from at state functions."
Am I wrong to think this? Probably. I know that such hatred diminishes me as a human being. I know, logically, that I cannot and should not blame every single Arab and every single Muslim for the atrocity committed by a very small group of individuals. I know that I should forgive, and judge every man and woman on the basis of their character, not by what demographic they're in.
I know all this, and yet, I became a racist September 12th. Or creedist, or whatever the term is. And I don't really feel bad about this. Oddly, I feel bad about not feeling bad about it, if that makes any sense. Because here's the thing: those terrorists, and those who sympathize with them, feel exactly the same way about me, and it doesn't bother them at all. And I will be damned before I apologize for wanting to kill someone who wants me dead.
Of course, what I want and what I would do if given the opportunity are two different things. I like to think that I have enough of a conscience, that there is some small shred of humanity within me, that would keep me from committing mass murder as an act of revenge. Perhaps I'm delusional in that regard. I will never know, however, because I will never have that power, and in my more lucid moments I thank whatever Powers That Be that I will not. I don't want to be tested like that. I'd much rather wrap myself in my blanket of moral superiority and savor my smug hatred.
Fortunately, I have a proxy to act on my behalf: the United States Armed Forces. They kill with extreme precision, and so when I see Shit Getting Blown Up in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever, I can shout "FUCK YEAH!" and not worry about if there were innocent people in that building.
You know, unlike the nearly three thousand innocent people killed on this day six years ago.
Whether or not you approve of America's actions abroad since 9/11, you have to admit one thing: We didn't react as nearly as strongly as we could have. We could have turned Afghanistan into a radioactive parking lot had we wanted. But we didn't, because we're the good guys. We don't target innocent civilians. We spend millions of dollars on smart bombs and missiles that will take out just one building on a city block just so we can minimize casualties. Shit, when we attacked Baghdad, the military took great pains to avoid destroying mosques and other sites of holy and cultural significance, when it would have been a whole lot easier and cheaper to just carpet bomb a grid square.
Because we are the Good Guys.
It has been six years, and I am still very fucking angry. If I am one of the Good Guys, why am I still so angry? Why do I still want to bathe in revenge? I have become Lady MacBeth in reverse, and all the blood of Arabia will not perfume my hand. I have become what I despise, and the irony is that I know how to escape this trap. I simply don't want to.
Your hell will be a long time in coming, Osama. And when it does, I wish you only the most exquisite of excruciating eternities.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146