Ever since the horrific events of 11th September, it has been difficult for journalists to write about anything else. But what can I write that you don't already know? For actually, there is very little to know. On the other hand, there is an awful lot to argue about. So that _ the argument _ is what I'm going to write about, and in particular, the words being used.
...

Ever since the horrific events of 11th September, it has been difficult for journalists to write about anything else. But what can I write that you don't already know? For actually, there is very little to know. On the other hand, there is an awful lot to argue about. So that _ the argument _ is what I'm going to write about, and in particular, the words being used.What we know is this: on that day, in just a few minutes, actions were taken which led to the deaths of more than 6,000 ordinary (i.e. civilian) people. This is the greatest number to die at the hands of their fellow humans in such a short space of time since Hiroshima.But wait! As soon as I add that observation about Hiroshima, I begin to enter the realm of argument. I wrote it to give some subjective meaning, to convey something of the enormity, to the dry numbers of the previous sentence. But immediately, I imagine voices raised in protest at my comparison, that it was different from Hiroshima because the people who suffered this terrible fate were in a country which was not 'at war'.Yes, indeed. That is why the first reactions of people in that country, including its leader, was to call it a 'crime'. Like all violent crimes, it had 'victims', and 'perpetrators' who should be 'brought to justice' and (after due process of law) 'punished'. But within hours, this vocabulary had been replaced with talk of 'war'. Acts of war are different from crimes. Instead of victims, perpetrators, justice and punishment, they involve 'casualties', 'enemies', 'military action' and 'war powers'(which do not require due process of law). There was some excuse for this lexical change. It seemed, perhaps, the only way to capture the enormous scale of the atrocity and it helped bring people together in empathy. But I think it is a bad move and a dangerous move. First, it encourages people to identify a visible enemy and demand their government fight back against it. Trouble is, there isn't one. So instead, thousands of ordinary people all over the world have suffered violence, just because they are Muslims or look vaguely Arabic. Second, it allows governments to kill ordinary people, because such action is acceptable in 'war'. Third, it invites an enemy into existence _ few people will identify with mass murder but millions will identify with a call to arms to defend their way of life. Fourth, and paradoxically, it makes 'victory', the normal aim of war, impossible, since its pursuance will create hundreds, perhaps thousands, more people willing to commit a similar atrocity in the future.