The assault on the United States last Tuesday should serve as a warning against extremism, foreign or domestic. This is a time for perspective, and for all Americans to find ways to come together. Personal choice is a central tenet of our freedom. It is now clear that we risk losing freedoms from outside attack; we do not need groups within this nation scheming to strip us of freedoms as well.

But while most of America paused in shock, homegrown extremists made only a tactical retreat last week. “A rock-throwing, violent protest seems to be incredibly the wrong image to put forward after today,” an anti-globalism activist said in an e-mail sent just hours after the attacks – as if violence was ever an acceptable means of protest in America. “We may not be having a protest of 100,000 this month, but the anti-corporate globalization/anti-capitalist movement will continue,” proclaimed another. The Animal Liberation Front even came forward on the day of the attacks on New York and Washington to take credit for the torching of a Tucson, Arizona, McDonald’s several days earlier.

And Gar Smith of the Earth Island Institute said Thursday that “this was not an ‘attack on freedom.’ It was a politically targeted attack on the core structures of the U.S. military and the U.S.-dominated global financial structure. This is not an attack not [sic] on U.S. citizens but an assault on U.S. foreign policy. The administration is trying to tell Americans that we are all targets. This is being done to draw attention away from the real targets: World Trade and U.S. militarism.”

“Not an attack on U.S. citizens?” the Washington Post’s Al Kamen scoffs. “Might want to tell that to the spouses, children, relatives and friends of the more than 5,000 killed.”