I was supposed to go to New York City this week, and found myself making travel arrangements on 7/11, the latest blood-red letter day of jihadist infamy. That was when bombers struck in Bombay, killing more than 200 and wounding more than 700 rush-hour commuters just trying to get home for dinner. I decided to fly.
But was that the best (read: safest) way to go? The plot to blow up Manhattan's Holland Tunnel had this same week been "disrupted," as they say, so maybe driving a car before another plot was cooked up was the better bet. But since not even the Department of Homeland Security could "disrupt" the heavy traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike, I still decided to fly.
Then again, aviation news was hardly confidence-building. The Houston Chronicle reported that a man with "a Middle Eastern name" and, as one airport screener put it, "all the components" of a bomb except for the explosives (a 9-volt battery taped to an alarm clock, a copy of the Koran, and "gutted out" shoes) was somehow cleared to fly the friendly skies by a local policeman. Which sounds quite nuts. And while the cop involved has been transferred to a desk job, that's no relief.
That's because this is just life as we know it, and, worse, life as we expect to know it in America, land of the free and stomping ground of the Islamic terrorist. Frankly, I hardly recognize the old place. The "home of the brave" becomes something else again when "brave" necessarily constitutes booking that domestic flight, taking that commuter train and sitting like ducks wondering whether we'll reach our destination in one piece -- unlike hundreds of innocents in Bombay. An Indian railway laborer made the carnage vivid to the Washington Post: "We collected scattered limbs with our own hands and put them in bundles and sent them to hospital."
Noting the ensuing security upsurge in American cities, Islamic expert Robert Spencer wrote the following at his must-read Web site, JihadWatch.org:
"This is the effect of terror, and this is just what the terrorists want that effect to be. It ties up their enemies' time and money, and it strikes fear in their hearts, in accordance with the Qur'an: 'Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly (8:60).'"