Explaining Osama and 9/11

My oldest son just graduated elemetary school and so my wife and I gave him an IPad as gift. He loves the thing. Unlike his gadget n geegaw loathing father, he takes to that stuff with a vengeance.

As an internet scouring curiosity-laden child, he’s gotta be watched carefully. Sometimes he finds “acceptable” videos on YouTube that scare him, however. Today he saw for the first time the footage of the World Trade Center being hit by plane and collapsing on September 11th, 2001. I was on an errand when his mother called me and told me how upset he’d been, seeing the people jump hand in hand to their deaths. 

When I returned home, I explained to him what had happened. And why New York had been attacked and how it had affected our family directly (his uncle’s boss was flown into the towers killing her). I explained to him that human beings were capable of incredible cold blooded cruelty but also kindness and love. He still wanted to know why Bin Laden had planned and executed the attacks and I replied that the motive may have been to force American troops off the holy Saudi soil or maybe that as a former CIA employee, he’d been stiffed for cash. We don’t really know.

What I do figure, I explained to him, is that Bin Laden had a history of being part of suckering Western powers into unwinnable wars. By knocking down the World Trade Center, America would be dragged into a bloody morass like the Red Army was and we’d collapse like the USSR did. And then something hit me that I’d never thought of.

When Bin Laden was laying out this grand scheme of destruction, how come no one ever said anything like “well, it’s true that the Americans are infidels, dude–but this retaliation of theirs that you’re hoping for? That’s gonna be thousands and thousands of our people that get snuffed in a war that really doesn’t have to take place. Like, they may be imperialistic whatevers, man, but this provocation means lots of dead civilians, kids. That’s not really a great idea–got anything else?”

Of course that never happened and not because of Islamofascism or whatever other completely human trait is laid on one group of people as opposed to all of them. It never seems to keep the Bin Laden’s of the world up at night that they’re responsible for death and carnage nor does anyone ever tell them that this isn’t heroism or martyrdom but murder. 

So I explained this to my boy and he nodded by way of “OK, dad–cool”. I dunno if it sank in but if I ever get word back that he walked away from a fight because he knew it never leads to anything but pain, that’s a job well done.