The Case for Rage and Retribution

This was written for Time magazine by the journalist Lance Murrow two days after 9/11. 

I can imagine he was still impassioned after what happened, given that Time has offices in New York. 

I’ve pulled out a few choice quotes.

  • For once, let’s have no fatuous rhetoric about “healing.”


  • Let America explore the rich reciprocal possibilities of the fatwa.


  • A policy of focused brutality does not come easily to a self-conscious, self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention span


  • America needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident relentlessness–and to relearn why human nature has equipped us all with a weapon (abhorred in decent peacetime societies) called hatred.


  • It’s a practical matter, anyway. In war, enemies are enemies. You find them and put them out of business, on the sound principle that that’s what they are trying to do to you.


  • America, in the spasms of a few hours, became a changed country. It turned the corner, at last, out of the 1990s. The menu of American priorities was rearranged. The presidency of George W. Bush begins now. What seemed important a few days ago (in the media, at least) became instantly trivial


  • The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world from the uncivilized. This is the moment of clarity. Let the civilized toughen up, and let the uncivilized take their chances in the game they started.


By all means read the whole article. It isn’t much longer than the sections I extracted it’s just that these particular extractions and the article as a whole are terrifying and mark in many ways the emotions that allowed for the surveillance state that we now live in.


Always best to watch out for those trick emotions no matter what the awful thing that has been done to you or your country.


As Gore Vidal said, “Goebbels never pulled it off that well.”

The Case for Rage and Retribution

Published by

The Sleepcoat League

Armchair anthropologist, sometime scribe, freelance philosopher, amateur artist, part-time poet, musical maven, alliteration aficionado.

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