It goes without saying that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 will dominate the history of this past year. Rarely has an event so defined a year as has this terrible tragedy. And yet as we stand on the brink of another new year, we realize that the results of Sept. 11 continue to unfold daily. It may well be that way far into the new year and even perhaps beyond.
One piece of unfinished business in the Sept. 11 story is the fate of American turncoat John Walker, the disenchanted young man who traveled to the Middle East in search of religion and ended as a "freedom fighter" for the enemy against the United States. Still unrepentant, Walker's eventual fate will dominate some of the headlines in the coming year. That much is certain.
Just yesterday, Helen Thomas, the self-appointed dean of the Washington press elite, weighed in with her opinion on Walker. Thomas is an aged journalist of extreme liberal leanings who has bounced around press circles since Lincoln was president it seems. She is known for her lengthy, rambling questions that clearly indicate her liberal bias. Thomas has called on President Bush to provide "compassion" for the beleaguered Walker and tried to compare Walker's youthful indiscretions with those of the President.
Well Helen Thomas is dead wrong. Walker deserves a fair trial and a full hearing. He deserves about as much compassion as he afforded the American soldiers he took aim at during the assault in Afghanistan. How sickening to equate Walker's fight against Americans to that of the wilder early years of George W. Bush. Thomas should be shunned by her colleagues and the American public.
John Walker was given ample opportunity to explain his actions and to save his hide. But he has chosen to stick to the resolve that his treasonous ways were justified. Walker's parents say he became a radical after reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X and then traveling to the Mideast. That is weak justification for his actions.
Compassion is most definitely an essential ingredient in American history. That Walker is alive today is sufficient compassion in his case. Someday soon a judge and jury at some level will decide the fate of John Walker. His punishment should serve as a footnote to the legacy of Sept. 11. Helen Thomas and her cronies can call for compassion all day long. Justice however may well take a far different view of Walker's actions. We can only hope so.