Shopping and sacrifice

[ cross-posted from Zenpundit — values ]


Sacrifice was high among the unifying ideals that many Americans hoped would emerge from the rubble of ground zero, where so many Good Samaritans had practiced it. But the president scuttled the notion on the first weekend after the attack, telling Americans that it was his “hope” that “they make no sacrifice whatsoever” beyond, perhaps, tolerating enhanced airline security. Few leaders in either party contradicted him. Bush would soon implore us to “get down to Disney World in Florida” and would even lend his image to a travel-industry ad promoting tourism. Our marching orders were to go shopping.

I’ve drawn this partial paragraph from Frank Rich‘s New York piece of August 27th, The 9/11 decade is now over. The terrorists lost. But who won? – it really caught my attention.

If you shake it down in the mind like someone panning for gold to get rid of the lightweight details, the heavier material that remains for you to sort through will, I think, consist of two words: “sacrifice” as representing one order of values, gleaming in contrast with the darker “shopping” representing another.

Yesterday I made a post about words and culture, this one is about culture and sacrifice… what comes next will be the series on ritual and ceremonial…

3 thoughts on “Shopping and sacrifice”

  1. Bush knew that the economy was at risk due to the combination of the internet bubble collapse in 2000 and the potential financial consequences of 9/11. That was an unfortunate choice of words. Still, the most serious error was Greenspan’s policy of low interest rates that fed the next bubble. Of course, that futile policy is still in force by Bernanke.

  2. I think a more thoughtful approach by GWB would have involved a combination of economic (shopping) as well as sacrifices including a complete investigation and discussion of the events leading up to 9/11. Another sore subject that IMHO could have been addressed was the US Dependence on foreign oil. Post 9/11 would have been a magnificent time for a moral and effective leader to bring a diverging citizenship together. The impulse to revenge contributed to poor policy choices.

  3. I think the real problem was a mismatch between the emotional impact of 9/11 and the actual scale of the event relative to the strength of America. 9/11 was something we all saw unfold live but the actual scale of the problem of terrorism was so small that it could be dealt with by a small percentage of the population. We all wanted to do something, to contribute but there just wasn’t enough to do.

    The War on Terrorist isn’t WWII. It’s being fought by professional military,intelligence and law enforcement. The rest of us mostly just pay a little more tax.

    I think Bush understood this but he also understood that the goal of the terrorist wasn’t to kill 2,700 people out of population of 300 million. The terrorist goal was terrorize us and the best way we could prove they had failed was to go on about our lives.

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