Leonard Pitts, of the Miami Herald, is one of the finest columnists in America. He offers a moderate view on most social and political issues with an eloquence I can only hope to emulate here.
But he's dead wrong in criticizing Tom Tancredo.
Tancredo is a Republican representative from Colorado, who said on a radio talk show the other day that the United States should destroy Muslim holy sites if terrorists were to ever detonate a nuclear device in our country.
Pitts called Tancredo a "yahooist" and asked rhetorically why such wacky ideas seem to be permeating the most influential echelons of our government. But here's the thing:
Tancredo was right on.
There is one thing Muslim extremists understand, and it's not the value of human life or any material possessions. It's their religion and everything associated with it, which includes a glorious martyrdom for those who die in the name of Allah. Look no further than the flap surrounding alleged desecration of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay to see how seriously Muslims take their religious symbols; the riots that ensued from that Newsweek report resulted in numerous deaths in Muslim countries.
Terrorists have made it clear that they will target anyone they feel is collaborating with the U.S. infidels. That's included countless civilians - which, incidentally, is my personal delineation between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: one targets the military via stealthy, guerilla warfare; the other targets civilians in the hopes it can confound and frighten the populace into pressuring the enemy government into acquiesence.
The attacks on our World Trade Center and Pentagon - and the aborted attack that ended in the Pennsylvania field - are evidence that these Islamo-fascists will not hesitate to inflict maximum damage on us. It's not a stretch to imagine they would detonate a nuclear device in the heart of New York City if given the chance. This would vaporize millions of people in seconds.
Millions of people. In seconds.
These are people who believe virgins await them if they die in the name of Allah. They celebrate death by welcoming their own. The only thing we can threaten them with is the destruction of all they consider holy if - and ONLY IF - they detonate a nuclear warhead in America or anywhere.
America is still learning how to fight by the terrorists' rules - which is something the Brits probably wish they'd done in the American Revolution, but I digress - though I think we're coming around. But if they nuke us, thereby taking away so much that we hold dear, we should not - and CANNOT - fail to respond in kind.
It's a truly frightening prospect, but this threat - and even the possible return to a whole new incarnation of the Cold War - could be the only thing that prevents Mutually Assured Destruction.