op-ed

Terror In Tribeca: The West Vs. Islam Is A Civilizational Clash

A flatbed pickup truck barrels like a sledgehammer breaking through a wall. Only in this case, the wall is a mass of human bodies—workers, citizens, and a child.

A child, on Halloween. A day where tots and infants are dolled up like miniature super-heroes and pint-sized mascots. A child’s body is mangled by a flatbed truck speeding headlong into the side of the school bus the kid is riding on. The sledgehammer-truck smashes a wall of organs; it breaks a wall of bodies.

Will the child survive? Doctors working in the ICU units of New York City are some of the best physicians in the world. The chances of survival, here, are as good as they are anywhere. One must hope.

Eugene Duffy is on West St. when he hears a girl wailing, her horrible screams cutting through the air like a knife suddenly and painfully gutting the insides of the city itself. What terror was going through her head as she lay there, amidst the blood and broken bones? Did Eugene see her? What do you see, Eugene? “I see two gentlemen laying there and they have tire tracks marked across their bodies.”

The post-mortems are chilling. Was there a lot of blood? What did you see, Chen Yi? What did you see? “I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground.”

Allahu Akbar!

Before Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbeki Islamist and cowardly sadist, smashed the Home Depot rental truck into the school bus, he’d been piloting his kamikaze flatbed for 14 blocks. Before that, the flatbed kept barreling onwards, the Home Depot logo on its side scratching against glass and concrete and metal. Did the logo on the side of the truck blur and distort with the bloodstains of human bodies? Did the human bodies tear open until muscle came out and bones were broken? Did the human bodies have names, the kind of names we give to our children and brothers and friends and lovers?

Yes, the victims of terror have names. Don’t forget that.

Frank, Ann-Laure, Ramon, Michael; some are the names of those who weren’t killed. What, I wonder, are the names of those butchered under the banner of the black flag, slaughtered for the centuries-old cause of salafism? I ask myself: when these mothers and sons die, will we remember their names, in a week, in a month, in a year? God help me, my child has a name. God help me, we all do.

I walk with a friend of mine, his jaw clenched, the fury pushing out through his gritted teeth like poisonous exhaust from a ruined engine. His motor is running. Boy, it’s running. How can these people walk around like nothing is happening? He asks. I don’t know, Paul. I don’t know. (I w-on’t use “Paul’s” real name, lest he be accused of “Islamophobia.”)

I come home and look at my son. He’s two years old. I pick him up and hold him in my arms. He’s a little shtarker, like his old man, and his uncles, and his grandfather. I hold his little, warm body in my arms. My arms: bigger and stronger than Sayfullo Saipov’s, my arms that care and comfort and create instead of destroying. But what would my strength matter if I were in the way of a truck ramming through a bike path? What would size matter if my son …

No, I can’t even think the thought.

I laid in bed next to my wife that night. Every day, she travels uptown, all by her lonesome. There’s nothing very special about her commute—no armored car, no helicopter. She takes the same aluminum tube we all stuff ourselves into every morning. The same metal tube that could turn to shrapnel, the way it did on the London Underground, when 52 innocents were murdered and had their names inscribed in the Book of Remembrance in July 2005. What were their names? What was the last thing they thought while they burst in agony, alone and afraid, dying below the streets of London?

Allahu Akbar. Yes, God is great. But you’d forgive the victims of this week’s Halloween Attack for thinking otherwise. And for the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, the sisters, lovers, and friends of those who died an excruciating death in the streets of Manhattan, you’d forgive them much more. You’d forgive them their sins and their hatred, their misdeeds and their faults. Because on a day where the innocent lie in pools of their own blood, and the mirthful and mischievous go on to rejoice in their costumes, go on to forget anything but the glee of the All Hallow’s Eve masquerade, no one is great. Maybe not even the Man himself.

On that day, when we go home to forget, when we go home to our warm beds, while clean-up crews with hazmat suits and hoses are still washing the blood off bike paths and avenues in the cold still air of our tiny urban island, we are all sinners.

God is great. But that day was not.


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