FEATURED IN LIFELINE TRAINING
On 9/11--the actual 9/11/2001--around noon, our homicide task force was called out for a murder that just occurred. As the Investigations Commander, I was apprised of the situation while driving to what would be the command post at the West Chicago PD.
Besides the obvious hell that was breaking loose nationally, we had our own coincidental breaking of hell that day: Our murder suspect was a Middle Eastern immigrant. He had beaten his roommate to death with a hammer and then tried to set his body on fire; not for religious or political reasons, but rather for a much more common one: a sexual dalliance the suspect had with the wife of the victim.
All in all, we wrapped up the bulk of the investigation by mid-evening. As the interviews were in their final stages and charges were being processed many of us settled down in the department’s break room for pizza and TV viewing. A dozen or so sat mesmerized by the repeated scenes of the planes slamming into the buildings, the towers imploding, people running, citizens covered in ash, women and men crying, and street interviews--raw and unedited--that exposed the emotion of the New Yorkers dazed, confused and angry wandering the streets of Manhattan.
A younger detective, maybe in his mid-twenties, was sitting to my right. As he sat staring at the television he asked a question within a statement: “This is a day we’ll never forget, huh L.T.?”
I know what he meant. He was talking about the anger, the emotion, the rage exhibited time and time again on the video monitor positioned slightly above our heads.
Without missing a beat and without averting my gaze from the very same TV I replied: “Nope, you’re wrong. We’ll forget about this in about 18 months.”
Shocked, he turned towards me and said incredulously, “What?! No we’ll never forget this! We’re gonna find and nuke these bastards.”
“No we won’t, because we'll forget. And we’ll forget quickly.”
Being too tired to play the appropriate patriotic roll or encourage his beliefs, I just stated it like I already saw it. So I continued,
“You’re right. We won’t forget this happened. This is our Pearl Harbor. It is going to affect our everyday lives to some extent. But what we will forget is how we feel at this moment. We will forget our collective rage, anger, the desire for retribution. We will forget that an enemy did this to us. We will quickly find fault and it won’t be about the people who did this. We will turn on ourselves. We will start pointing fingers at us. We will take responsibility for making these assholes do this to us. In other words, many of us will excuse this.”
Now obviously my quotes above aren’t exactly verbatim, but that conversation actually took place during the evening of 9/11/2001. This young detective (who’s name is lost to my fading memory) and I talked about this for quite a while. He was insistent that my beliefs were wrong and my estimation of the American populace jaded.
“This is going to bring us together like nothing ever before,” he confidently and almost defiantly stated.
“You’re right, flags will be flying, patriotic songs will be sung, and we will feel pride like no other time in most of our lives. But it will quickly pass collectively.”
“You’re wrong L.T., you are wrong!”
So my question to you reading this is simple: Was I? Was I wrong?
Flags definitely flew. Every house on my block had one up. They were on cars. The national anthem was sung louder and prouder than I had ever experienced. But ...
… then what?
And how about now?
It’s been a week and it's already starting. We are arguing about motivation, inborn American prejudices, immigration policies, whether radical Islam is an issue, etc. Many in the media and of the political class are starting to deny that terrorism is an actual problem (“Only a few dozen have been killed by terrorists on American soil since 9/11; more have been killed by lightening.”). And if they do concede there is a terrorist issue, then many believe that we contribute and incite terrorist behavior (“What did we do to these boys, as they were more American than foreign.”).
The mantra is: We fed their motivation by being who we are. We need to examine ourselves and analyze what we are doing wrong.
Now of course not everybody thinks this way. In fact I believe the majority of us know exactly what and who these two cowards really were/are – evil, satanic, child killer, murderous, terrorist scum!
So how come the majority aren’t the ones driving the conversation? Why is the media spending an inordinate amount of time talking about how these killers weren’t welcomed by “us” when they immigrated to this country? Why are we doing a psychological profile on them in order for “us” to learn how we contributed to their mental state and motivations? Why are we talking about how drone strikes may be a factor? Why is the press secretary for the president of the United States taking a question from a so-called reporter that directly accuses “us” of being the real terrorists? Why are we not taking control of this issue? And how can we?
Well I’ll tell you a good place to start: with ourselves. We should ALL contact the media and tell them what we think. We should write letters to our congressional and senatorial representatives and tell them that we want action taken and for them to speak out about what we are really facing and damn the political correctness.
At the highest level we can have the press secretary look at the so-called reporter and tell her that we aren’t terrorists in any way.
In fact, he could have said something like this: “That’s an insulting question lady and your timing is insensitive and out of line! Besides, your presupposed fact imbedded in that question is entirely inaccurate. The people of this country are the most generous on the planet. No one, and I mean no one, gives more time and money to those in pain around the world than we do. We lose more soldiers than any other country. And you know why we lose them? You know why we have thousands dead and tens of thousands maimed? Because we jump in to save and protect the tortured, the subjugated, the starving, the dying. We are the greatest country on this planet because we do care and we back that up by action. We may not be perfect, but we as individuals, and as a government, are kind and giving to a fault. So to answer your question, no we did nothing to deserve this. These two guys were radicalized are cowards and murderers. And we won’t tolerate this in any fashion. And whoever these people are, no matter their religious or political views, if they kill our kids, we are going to hunt these bastards down and destroy them. We are going to send a message and we are going to stop them. No matter what it takes and no matter what you think. Print that!”
Maybe we can start there.
I listened to an expert on terrorism at a conference about seven years ago. He was from the Middle East and made it very clear he was going to be honest and realistic throughout the two days. What we saw and heard was terrifying and alarming. He ended the two-day seminar with this statement/warning and I paraphrase: “You guys have to get your heads out of your collective asses and wake up. Soft targets are the future. They will go after your children. Malls, parades, Disneyland will face attacks. School buses will explode. Children, thousands of children, will be murdered. And there will still be segments in this country that will do back-flips to place blame on the United States. That is ridiculous! Don’t let them hijack reality. These terrorists want you dead simply because you exist. If you don’t make an about face, you will politically correct yourselves into extinction.”
Next month: Law Enforcement's Role.