JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The terror trials in NYC

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As a near-lifelong New Yorker and a man who loves his state very much, I’m fascinated by the debate over whether the 9.11 masterminds should be tried in New York.

Those opposed to the idea are very loud and very passionate. Some of their points are valid—but their major argument is not.

Bringing the terrorists back to the scene of the tragedy is not showbiz for the Obama administration. It isn’t a particularly high security risk; it isn’t an advertisement that America is now “soft” on terrorists. In fact, what it serves as is a bright neon declaration that the United States is once again committed to justice and righteousness. That the law will have its way. That even the most heinous … the most reprehensible … the most terrifying will be treated fairly.

Those against this say, “What a load of crock! The terrorists didn’t care about justice, so why should we treat them with any compassion?” But that’s the friggin’ rub, and it kills me that so many people don’t see it. The greatest trap here—the absolute greatest—is becoming what you despise. Should we decide to treat the terrorists without humanity, then we have stopped to a horribly low and sad level. The opportunity—a unique opportunity—is here to remind the world what makes America a great and awesome place. The compassion. The honesty. The sense of right and wrong and fair.

And fair.

If these people are responsible for 9.11, they will pay. But it shouldn’t be in a secret prison, tried by a mysterious military tribunal in a distant country.

No, it should be here. In the open.

In America.