Friday, September 12, 2008

New Abnormal

Sitting in a bar near O'Hare Airport in Chicago, watching the planes break through the low-lying cloud deck and slice through the rain, trailing wingtip vortices made visible by the prodigious moisture in the air.

A few hours ago, that was me, dropping through that cloud deck (after a flight which was spent in a featureless pearlescent white-out. So much for my eagerly anticipated gawking at the landscape).

A few hours before that, I was taking off my belt and shoes in public at Philadelphia International Airport, chuckling because it was more productive than stewing in rage at the medievalist miscreants who had made such antics necessary.

I'd been reading Fred Burton's Ghost (a good read, if you don't mind how hard he's trying to sound like a hard-bitten but hurting Film Noir detective), which did nothing to improve my mood with respect to the deadly earnest absurdities which travelers will face for the foreseeable future. Islamic terrorists have been targeting air travel for a long time. 9/11 was only the most recent and dramatic example of how those whose benighted dead culture dooms them to crawl in the dust have become obsessed with punishing those whose who thrive by denying them the skies.

During my news crawl, I came across this article on the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies site. I'm not going to go into this too deeply, since time is short, and I'd like to not be flooded with adrenaline and ready for combat during this pleasure trip. The article touches on the outlandish conspiracy theories which substitute for critical thinking in the Middle East. Such fantasies find all-too receptive audiences here, even among good, smart people who are trying to get a handle on the perplexing and appalling realities of a world at war.

Unfortunately, although proceeding from the best of intentions, those good folks are essentially making excuses for the barbarities perpetrated by our enemies. In the end, there is no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent people going about their least not within any belief system which we can afford to not crush decisively. It very simply does not make sense to draw equivalences between the tragic and accidental killing of civilians by weapons we have spent enormous sums of money to give the capacity to strike enemies with precision while sparing bystanders...and the very deliberate and merciless slaughter of those civilians for the sake of intimidating them into hewing to some demented religio-political belief system. As much as it may shock the multiculturalists and moral relativists, one is quite simply better than another, and behaving as though it were otherwise simply feeds into the agendas of the very people who will be the first to saw off the heads of those who have proved so useful in disseminating their narrative of victimhood.

On Sunday, I will be back in line at the airport, my cologne and toothpaste in ziplock bags, my belt and shoes on a conveyer, maintaining calm, vigilant situational awareness, taking personal responsibility for identifying any potential threats which airport security might miss. I'd much rather focus on the excitement of flying, which I love more than most things on this planet. As soon as we throttle up for takeoff, that's exactly what I'll be doing. Till then, however, I will be living in that "New Normal," and making sure that I begrudge every single goddamn second of it.

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