- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

Like it or not, all of us have been drafted into the war against terrorists. We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do.

The primary weapon of the terrorist is fear. Instilling fear in people is how the terrorist wins. You can see it all throughout history. Adolf Hitler had the Gestapo, Josef Stalin had the KGB, the Mafia has paid assassins and leg-breakers. All tyrannical movements use fear to gain and keep control.

Right now, millions of Americans are frightened. That is normal. The sudden terror inflicted on America by unknown forces was devastating and horrifying. The illusion that we, the citizens of the strongest nation in the world, are safe from murderous fanatics has been shattered. The images of everyday Americans jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center are indelible. It could have been any of us. The violence was definite and bloodcurdling. Fear is entirely appropriate in this case.

The question then becomes, what do we do with our fear? Do we sell our stocks? Do we cancel our travel plans? Do we change our work and leisure habits? Now safety should be a priority for everyone, but giving into fear and altering our lives in a way that damages our country is surely a victory for the terrorists.

So we must fight hard and conquer our fear. Take that plane ride. Buy some stocks. Work harder at your job. All these things will help America.

I have interviewed people who say this is nonsense, that everyone should be looking out for themselves. They say there's nothing wrong with shorting the stock market or canceling vacation plans. I say this is unpatriotic. This is not a time to be playing it safe this is a time to be sending a message to those who want to frighten us into giving up on our social and financial system. The terrorists knew that the stock market would be adversely affected. They knew some Americans would panic, and, of course, that is part of their plan. They want panic in America; they want economic chaos and paranoia.

All of us as soldiers in this war cannot give the terrorists that victory. Take all the precautions you want, but don't bail out of the American way of life. Don't scare your kids show them your strength. Even if other terrorist incidents happen, don't break down and let fear control you. In order to win this war, Americans must adopt the fatalistic attitude of the warrior: Do everything you can to survive, but never back down. Meet this brutal enemy head-on, and give the terrorists no victory whatsoever.

The world is watching America right now because if terror wins, the world changes drastically. We all have a stake in this. None of us can hide in our homes hoping calamity will pass us by. We all have to summon courage to ward off the forces of evil and destruction that were not a reality in our lives until a few days ago.

For most of us this will not be an easy thing. Images of pain and devastation will flash in our minds. Worry about our children will be constant. The terrorists know this and are counting on Americans folding under this kind of psychological pressure in the same way that the Germans folded, the Russians folded, and the Chinese packed in their quest for freedom. If fear can rule those countries, it can rule America, too. But it will not rule if we all become soldiers in this war. And if we all do our duty to win it.

Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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