We can still afford to act like America – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com

That feeling is arguably the most significant casualty of Sept. 11. On that day, we elevated a mob of stateless criminals, a mafia in cleric’s clothing, to the exalted level of rogue nation. But they were never that, never a threat to our national existence, lacked the forces to take even one square inch of American soil. What they could threaten — and take — was our sense of ourselves as a brave, reasonable and civilized people, inhabiting a nation of laws. They beckoned us into the mud with them, and we leapt.
It’s not the first time. Periodically, we have shed the burden of bravery, reason, civilization, laws. Always, it happens in moments of national stress, moments of overwhelming confusion, anger or fear, moments that make us prey to demons of expedience and moral compromise. Moments when we wonder if we can still afford to act like America.
But we face a band of bloodthirsty hoodlums whose dearest wish is to make us just like them. So maybe the better question is this:
Can we afford not to?