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As far as I can tell, the "cause" is to kill as many Americans as possible. Not much of a cause. Not what Americans would view as the politics of inclusion.
The lack of a motive is just one of the unresolved questions that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have left us with.
It is human nature--at least civilized human nature--that we seek perspective for everything that happens. No matter how upsetting the situation, our immediate reaction is to attempt to reconcile it in our minds. We try to understand it.
I think that's why I remain as troubled as I am by the events of that day. In so many respects, from the swiftness of the events themselves to the enormity of their toll to the unending aftermath, it is the senselessness of it all that still boggles my mind. And I don't think I'm alone in this.
No matter how many news stories I read, no matter how much television coverage I watch, I can't answer one basic question: Why?
Ever since I walked into the newsroom here that Tuesday morning and joined a group of people huddled around the television just in time to see the second plane hit the second World Trade Center tower, all the questions a journalist is trained to ask could be answered--except for that one.
Once the second plane hit, we knew what it was: terrorism, designed to kill many Americans. One thought process later, we knew who: Osama bin Laden, who had tried before to take out the World Trade Center.
When a third plane went into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania, the modus operandi was clear: hijacked jetliners used as missiles.
As far as bin Laden is concerned, the motive is to kill Americans, and in that alone he measures his accomplishment. In persuading his brainwashed pawns to sacrifice their lives in carrying out their evil deeds, he had to sweeten the pot by promising them that nirvana awaits on the other side, and this was their way to achieve it.
For most Americans, such an ideology does not compute. Still, we set out to live our daily lives as best we can, saddled with this ugly backdrop and the conflicting emotions it continues to stir.
What did you tell your young children? Like me, you probably told them that bad men did some terrible things, and it's very sad because a lot of mommies and daddies won't be coming home.
Then you reassured them that we are all safe and sound, knowing in the back of your mind that guarantees are no longer available.
Did yours ask you why God let this happen? Did they ask you that if God loves everyone, how could he love terrorists?
How can we expect them to grasp the concept of forgiveness when even the most compassionate of us want to see those responsible for this suffer great pain and die? It's not easy to explain, but we try.
Then we put our minds to all the other questions that are so incredibly difficult to answer: How much freedom are we willing to trade for a measure of security against terrorism?
Did our government let us down by allowing this to happen?
Isn't there something more we can do to help the victims' survivors besides donating money and praying for their well-being?
And if those issues we face at home aren't difficult enough, try putting some perspective on the reasoning behind the attacks.
If bin Laden and his boys are so smart that they could plan and execute this well-orchestrated attack, how could they ignore the obvious implications for not only their own cause, whatever it is, but for Islam, Muslims, and anyone who even looks Middle Eastern?
Virtually the entire world is united against bin Laden, his terrorist network and those who harbor them. Even those who survive are destined to be isolated in their own cavernous insane asylum.
Why would they choose to bring a shroud of prejudice down on all people of Middle Eastern heritage around the world?
This time, we're not about to round up decent Americans because of what they look like and put them into camps. On the contrary, we will punish severely those who act out their prejudice with violence against innocent people.
But I hesitate to believe even the most enlightened individuals who might say, for example, they'd feel comfortable flying on an airplane with a fellow passenger who appears to be Middle Eastern. The poor fellow would probably be tackled the moment he gets up to go to the bathroom.
We've plastered the pictures
of the terrorists across the top of the front page of the newspaper. This is designed to help jog someone's memory of an encounter with one of them that could, in turn, help investigators. But it tells the rest of us only that people who look like these guys hijack airliners and kill innocent people.
The lack of ready answers to these questions will prove an ongoing source of frustration as generations of Americans seek some sort of closure. But we will learn to live with what has happened because we must.
In the meantime, as the dust continues to settle and the tears continue to flow, we are united in our patriotism. And we can feel assured that for bin Laden and his terrorists, sooner or later, there will be hell to pay.