I woke up this morning in my 17th floor apartment in Brooklyn Heights and
watched the sun come up over lower Manhattan, something I have done every
morning for the six years I have been living here.
The skyline across the East River looked miraculously untouched, and I might
have believed that the horror I had witnessed from my window yesterday was
only a plot for one of my novels, except the two towers, which had been the
centerpiece of my view, were gone, replaced by a pillar of smoke still
billowing from a spot where I had stood only a week ago.
But the rising sun still glinted off the other skyscrapers, and the smell of
smoke was dissipating from my apartment. I turned on the TV to hear my
say we New Yorkers had too much spirit to have it extinguished by an act of
terror. And he's right. Live goes on.
Out my window, people are opening their businesses, including an Arab-run
news stand across the street. The man, who listens to music I find strange
and speaks in a language I cannot understand, works hard many hours every
day. I have seen fear in his eyes late at night when he wonders if the next
customer will add a few pennies to his daily earnings or come to steal from
him. He may look and speak different, but he's just like all of us in this
vast melting pot of American with the sames dreams and fears.
We cannot hate people for the color of their skin or their place of origin;
that's not the American way. We hate people for their actions, and we will
make those who caused this horrendous act pay for their crime. But if we
follow the advice of those who have let hate cloud their judgment at this
time of terror, then we will be as bad as those who perpetrated this crime.
The terror is real. Just now I hear the roar of jet engines outside my
window, and a shudder runs up my spine. I realize that's how the people of
London must have felt during the blitz, but this time I know it's an
fighter jet flying precautionary cover over my City. But the thought that
such an action has become necessary makes me shudder, too. My country has
changed. Life will never be the same again. But if we let these terrorists
steal freedom and decency from us, they will have won. These gutless
can defeat us only if we let them. These terrorists have no arsenal to use
against us. They were able to attack America only by using our own peaceful
tools --our passenger airliners -- as weapons against us. If they cause us
to hate senselessly, they will use our own emotions against us, too.
Wednesday, September 19, 2001 12:19:49 AM