Leonard Pitts Column

  1. Yeah, I know, today is getting to me. But I have always found the columns of Leonard Pitts enlightening, thought provoking. Somehow, I missed his column written on 9/11/01 and published 9/12/01. I found it this morning, and here it is:

    It's my job to have something to say.

    They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

    You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

    What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

    Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

    Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

    Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

    Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae - a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though - peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

    Some people - you, perhaps - think that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

    Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning, and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

    But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

    I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

    In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure al- lowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

    You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well.

    On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.

    As Americans, we will weep; as Americans, we will mourn; and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

    So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

    But you're about to learn.

    (Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Contact him at lpitts@herald.com or phone him toll-free at 888-251-4407.)
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Glad2behere
    Yessir Kevin,

    Leonard Pitts is also one of my favorites, has a way of seeing through all the fog...and his 2 cents always make sense.
  4. by   eltrip
    After reading this article last year, I became a fan of Leonard Pitts. I e-mailed him, thanking him for this commentary. Thanks for posting it.

    Wearing my red, white & blue,
  5. by   Sleepyeyes
    Kevin, thanks for posting that. Excellent article.
  6. by   researchrabbit
    Leonard Pitts is sooooo cool. Absolutely my favorite editorialist.
  7. by   shannonRN
    powerful article/column....thanks for sharing.

    almost everytime i see clips of what happened one year ago, my eyes well up with tears and i have this terrible pitting feeling in my stomach. as i have said before, i just cannot fathom the blatant disrespect for human life. why can't we all just get along?!

    "Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." John Lennon :kiss