October 11, 2004
Kerry's Nuisance Nuance
John Kerry has nuanced his position on terrorism yet again. In an interview with the New York Times magazine, Kerry declared:
We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance ... As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
There's no way around it: this is a stunningly stupid statement. What's more, it reveals a sick, twisted sense of priorities.
Most of us assign the rank of "nuisance" to things such as loud teenagers next door, moles digging up the yard and Teresa Heinz. But I'm sure the families of those Americans murdered by terrorists and the patrons of terrorism would adamantly maintain that terrorism is much more than a mere nuisance.
In today's Bleat, James Lileks puts it best:
A nuisance? I don’t want the definition of success of terrorism to be “it isn’t on the rise.” I want the definition of success to be “free democratic states in the Middle East and the cessation of support of those governments and fascist states we haven’t gotten around to kicking in the ass yet.” I want the definition of success to mean a free Lebanon and free Iran and a Saudi Arabia that realizes there’s no point in funding the fundies. An Egypt that stops pouring out the Jew-hatred as a form of political novacaine to keep the citizens from turning their ire on their own government. I want the definition of success to mean that Europe takes a stand against the Islamicist radicals in their midst before the Wahabbi poison is the only acceptable strain on the continent. Mosquito bites are a nuisance. Cable outages are a nuisance. Someone shooting up a school in Montana or California or Maine on behalf of the brave martyrs of Fallujah isn't a nuisance. It's war.
But that's not the key phrase. This matters: "We have to get back to the place we were."
But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we losing. When we were there we died. We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we’ve learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don’t want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nighmares are their dreams.
We have to get back to the place we were.
No. We have to go the place where they are.
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