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The Right to Be Innocent


The terrorist's strongest message is his willingness to destroy the innocent along with the enemy; even instead of the enemy. This is done to force the choosing of sides, which expands the battle, which is the terrorist's prime objective. The greatest weapon that we have against terrorism is to not run where it seeks to drive us. We ought to reject the easy philosophy that insists we must be on one side or the other, because that way of thinking deprives us of alternatives. You cannot choose the new if you are bonded to the old.

Terrorists target the innocent for a reason -- because the followers always outnumber the leaders. Followers, as a rule, look for the most familiar answers, and that tendency can be made to serve evil purposes. But to instinctively seek leadership in a crisis is not a bad thing. Any sensible person recognizes that no one can think of everything; and when we look to leaders, we are at least looking away from the mirror. What is bad is to keep bad leaders, simply because there is a crisis.

Still, unquestionably, the terrorist does most earnestly wish that we will blame our own leaders, if only for not protecting us. Let us remember that, as Americans, we are particularly prepared to protect ourselves where it matters most -- in our hearts, and in our minds. We have the right to be innocent -- to choose a third way, if we can find one.

Much of today's furor and upheaval is made by would-be turtles who have been reluctantly dragged out of their imaginary shells; ostriches, desprived of their comforting hole in the sand. Many

-- David R. Bradley -- Sept. 2001


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