Member Rara Avis
Sadly, I think we still have two very disparate groups, and the differences between them are possibly at the heart of the media incidents you mention, Brad. I certainly feel I've seen evidence of both camps right here in our forums, as well as spread across the Internet.
On the one hand, I think we have a very vocal group of people ruled by their anger. They want justice/vengeance (pick one) and they want it now. At any cost. I haven't heard a single one of them "say" we should bully American-Arabs. I haven't heard anyone "say" we should bomb innocent civilians. But neither does their anger and rhetoric rule out the likelihood. Their emphasis is on action, and they don't tell us a whole lot about what form that action should take - beyond being immediate and devastating.
The other group wants to say, "Yea, butů" and unfortunately they never quite get to the third word before being cut off at the knees. They are just as angry as the first group, but recognize the danger of compounding terrorism with more terrorism. Yet, any attempt to temper retribution with reason is met with accusations, and they quickly find themselves in the unenviable position of defending the indefensible.
Strangely, I don't think these two groups are as far apart as it might at first seem. I would like to believe those ruled by anger are still looking for justice, not blood for the sake of blood. I would like to believe the confusion arises from their generalities, and their reliance on extremist rhetoric. They talk about action against the enemy, seemingly with an unspoken assumption that everyone knows who that enemy is. The second group is just as angry, of course, and just as intent on blood. But they want to be sure there is agreement on the target of their vengeance.
At least that's what I'd like to think. Of course, there's also the very real danger that no one really cares about justice, that a "the innocents be damned" attitude will prevail.
Perhaps the one thing more frightening than that is the likelihood we WILL be forced to make that choice. I strongly suspect the targets of our vengeance will remain hidden behind the faces of the innocent, and the only way the American demand for blood can be met will be through the deaths of those who are in no way responsible.
But then, perhaps that is the classic definition of war.