(This is basically a rerun of my posts from this day in 2006-2008. Some new links added this year are at the bottom of the post.)
I am increasingly worried about our prospects for success in the battle against those who would destroy our civilization. America and the other democracies possess great military, economic, and intellectual strengths–but severe internal divisions threaten our ability to use these resources effectively.
Within days of the collapse of the Towers, it started. “Progressive” demonstrators brought out the stilt-walkers, the Uncle Sam constumes, and the giant puppets of George Bush. They carried signs accusing America of planning “genocide” against the people of Afghanistan.
Professors and journalists preached about the sins of Western civilization, asserting that we had brought it all on ourselves. A well-known writer wrote of her unease when her daughter chose to buy and display an American flag. Some universities banned the display of American flags in dormitories, claiming that such display was “provocative.”
Opinions such as these have metastacized to the point at which they are no longer irrelevant to mainstream politics. Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, along with other leading Democrats, attended a special screening of Michael Moore’s movie Farenheit 9/11. Moore is well-known for his outrageous statements about the country in which he lives–things he is credibly reported to have said include: “(Americans) are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy],” (in an interview with the British newspaper The Mirror) and “That’s why we’re smiling all the time. You can see us coming down the street. You know, `Hey! Hi! How’s it going?’ We’ve got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren’t loaded down” (to a crowd in Munich) and “You’re stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.” (to a crowd in Cambridge, England.) And about the terrorists who are killing Americans and Iraqis on a daily basis in Iraq, Moore had this to say: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents’ or `terrorists’ or `The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.”
This is the individual who shared Jimmy Carter’s box at the Democratic National Convention, and who continues to be very popular in “progressive” circles.
Imagine if a former President, in the midst of World War II, had embraced a man who spoke to foreign audiences about the stupidity of the American people and referred to our German and Japanese enemies as “heroes.” Imagine also that such attitudes had been openly embraced by a large part of the Republican Party leadership and by many well-known writers and entertainers. Could Franklin Roosevelt have led the nation to victory under such circumstances?
And continuously, there has been the steady drip-drip-drip of moral equivalence. In September 2003, Howard Dean, now Democratic National Committee Chairman, stated that the US should not “take sides” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Actually, the refusal to draw a bright line against Palestinian terrorism is a major factor that enabled 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities.
Susan Turnbull, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, referred to the killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as murder. Follow this link and you can hear it for yourself. Yes, she corrected herself and changed it to the “bombing” of Zarqawi. However: As far as I can tell, Turnbull is a native speaker of the English language. And I don’t think any native English speaker would use the term “murdered” unless they disapproved of what had been done. Certainly, few Americans during WWII would have referred to the “murder” of Admiral Yamamoto (whose plane was shot down after his movement plans became known via communications intercepts) or the “murder” of German war criminals who were executed after the war.
Many individuals, particularly among religious leaders, show a stunning naivete. Annika quotes from a homily at a church in her neighborhood: “What if, instead of bombing Afghanistan, we had dropped food, medicine and education?”
How could anyone with an IQ above refrigerator temperature say such a thing? Even if education could somehow be “dropped,” isn’t this priest aware that the Taliban specifically denied education to women, and greatly limited the kinds of education that were available to men? Does he think the Taliban’s executions at the soccer stadium, or its destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, were motivated by a desire for food and medicine?
People who say such things are so caught up in the catch-phrases they have been taught that they are completely unable to understand the real motivations of the enemy.
Bryan Preston: Rather than accept the reality of an enemy that cannot and therefore will not negotiate away what he believes to be the will of God, and rather than accept that this enemy will understand nothing outside total victory or total defeat, and rather than understand that this enemy’s goals include enslaving the entire world in a global caliphate, and rather than accept that this reality necessitates the use of all tools including military might to defend ourselves, millions have embraced an alternate reality. The reality of the enemy outside the West and its motivations being too terrifying and too far beyond their own control, millions now imagine that the enemy in this war is within. The enemy, to them, isn’t the turbaned man behind the plot to hijack multiple airplanes and crash them into multiple buildings in America. The real enemy, to these millions, is the man in the Oval Office, and the man or men behind him.
Five years on, the illness of replacing an implacable, indeed alien enemy with one from our own civilizational family has spread and metastasized through the majority of one of our two political parties, and may yet claim a majority of the country itself. History has a way of fading out as the day’s current noise rises in volume, and to them 9-11 is either history or a historic lie. The loudest voice, though not always or even often right, is often the one that gets the last word. And the 9-11 deniers and their allies across the left are nothing if not loud.
Five years on, it’s hard to take a positive look at the war because we are failing to comprehend it. The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. Those of us who see the threat for what it is still say that we will prevail because we are right and because we are America, but that’s just letting the others off the hook. If we’re going to prevail anyway, why should they snap out of their fog? And why should we demand that they do? The truth is, we need the denial to end and we need our countrymen to understand and help, but since we’re powerless to cure it with reason we shrug or laugh at it. But it’s eating away at our ability to defend ourselves.
It has to be said: The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. We are not dealing here merely with normal differences about policy that can be debated by rational individuals. We are have in our midst a significant number of individuals who are filled with rage toward their own country, who are highly susceptible to bizarre conspiracy theories, who lack any form of historical perspective, who are increasingly eager to engage in scapegoating.
In 2006, I visited an old industrial facility that has been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there, dating from around 1900, was called an attrition mill. It contains two steel discs, which rotate at high speed in opposite directions, crushing the kernels of grain between them.
I fear that our civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the terrorist enemy, and the other being the reality-deniers within our own societies.
Links worth following:
A post byJane Galt, written six months after 9/11, when she was volunteering at the World Trade Center site.
A worthwhile essay at The American Thinker: The Moral Emptiness of the Left. Also see Bret Stephens on some of the roots of the left’s confused thinking on terrorism.
Finally, Reflecting Light has some eloquent words.
UPDATE: Lead and Gold has links, excerpts, and reflections, all of which are well worth reading.
Neptunus Lex was operations officer on an aircraft carrier when the news came in. Read the comments, too.
UPDATES FOR 2008: Cara Ellison has pictures and a story.
Here is some very depressing survey data about international beliefs regarding 9/11. In Italy, for example, 15% of the people surveyed believed that the U.S. government was behind the attacks. In Egypt, 12% said that the attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government, while 43% blamed Israel.
UPDATES FOR 2009: Ryan Mauro ask are we getting complacent about terror? Ralph Peters believes that the answer to this question is clearly “yes.” (via PowerLine)
Bookworm has thoughts and links.
19 thoughts on “9/11 Plus Eight Years”
Well, September 11th again. Same memories — what can I say about it that’s new? If you’ve read some of this before, sorry for the repetition. Living in Alexandria, Virginia then. Had just been to the Delaware beaches for the weekend, got back late Monday. What I remember of the September 10th world — perfect weather, Gary Condit and sharks on the cable news, 24/7. Saw no sharks at Rehoboth. I went into my office slightly late, heard on the radio a repeat story about the news of the first plane driving down Russell Road, thought about the old story of the plane hitting the Empire State Building — freak accident, no? Then the report of the second plane — hmmm, no coincidence here. Then I got to my office building, opposite the King St. metro station. Parked in the underground garage; took the elevator straight from the garage to the sixth floor, went to my office. My office window faced northwest. My desk faced the opposite wall, my back to the window when I was at the computer. I went straight to the desk to get on line and check what crazy stuff was happening in New York.
The phone rang — it was a business colleague who was in San Juan. What about the plane that had hit the Pentagon? What plane?? It must have happened when I was parking underground, no radio signal. I turned around — a pillar of smoke to the north, no, more than a pillar — it obscured a third of the sky from the window. A wall of smoke. I went to the balcony outside — people from the building’s offices were all lining the rail. Emergency vehicles were already streaming northward — fire engines, ambulances, police — and soon a solid stream of cars moved south — all the offices in DC and Arlington were closing, everybody was heading for home.
I got a call from my lunch appointment, who had been flying down from New York — he had been on the tarmac at LaGuardia, queued for takeoff. Suddenly the planes started to turn around and head back to the terminal. Soon I started walking home — only a nice fifteen minute walk. Steady stream of southbound cars. At home, our Japanese au pair was shaken. She had been on the Tokyo subway a few years earlier when the Aum Sacred Truth nut cult let the nerve gas loose — nowhere near her, fortunately, but she remembered being suddenly herded up the stairs and out some random station by stern-faced police. She wondered whether terrorism was bound to follow her wherever she went.
For a while, it was “normal” that the Pentagon was on fire — I can no longer remember how long, but it seemed like weeks. It was “normal” that the metro slowed but did not stop at the Pentagon station, and armed troops in camos lined the platform. It was “normal” that Reagan National Airport was silent and empty when the train went by it. If you woke up in the middle of the night, you could hear the fighters circling overhead.
Silence is my most persistent personal memory – I did not have television at the time and never saw the real time images. I still haven’t to this day. I’m not sure that I want to. I ‘heard’ the images on the radio, in my mother’s teary voice describing what she had watched at work and the horror everyone felt as the images were broadcast. At the time, I lived not far from O’ Hare Airport, and the absence of planes flying in and out later that day seemed eerie, strange, bizarre. I had never heard my father sound shaken in my entire adult life, but his voice was hushed and silent and shaky when he called. I had flown out of the same Boston terminal only a few days before, and my brother panicked initially, not knowing my exact day of departure or flight.
Awful. My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who perished that day.
My perception is very different.We saw car after car after car flying the American flag and bumper stickers talking about “United We Stand.” whereas there might be some here and there that blamed our own nation, mostly we saw a growing dislike of Muslims in general, and a sense of unity to fight to preserve what we hold dear. To
take so negative a view is for me misleading.
My home street filled up with flags within hours. A car that was usually parked along my walking route to work, that had always had a prominent Panamanian flag in its window, suddenly sported a US flag next to it. Ordinary people were not the problem, the intelligentsia were. I remember all of the things David mentioned, and more.
Orwell said something like “No ordinary person could believe that; it would take an intellectual to believe something so stupid.” It’s gotten worse since he wrote that.
since Bush didn’t see fit to put the country on a war footing, it’s not surprising that the rest of the country hasn’t retained that sense of urgency.
not going after the saudi government also bled a lot of the justification for the WOT.
abandoning the machinery of culture to the left has led to the current situation you describe, where internal subversion is so prevalent. thank you GOP.
Cjm…”abandoning the machinery of culture to the left”…not really clear to me, though, what conservatives & libertarians & even old-line liberals could have done to have more influence on this machinery. Certainly, for academia (outside the hard sciences) and for the media, career success has been pretty tightly linked to adherence to the “progressive” orthodoxy.
“not going after the saudi government also bled a lot of the justification for the WOT.”
Yep, That still gets me. I also do wonder why they appointed Henry Kissinger(a man who has worked for the Saudis much of his life) to head the 9/11 comission and why did he resign when asked about this?
Why keep funding/supporting the most fundamentalist islamic wacko regime in the mid-east(Saudi Arabia)?
Smells like a false-flag event to me. It wouldn’t be the first one. I feel more in danger today than ever. The WOT has increased the number of terrorist in the world and weakend us financially.
Washington DC is a more dangerous enemy to my family than the people in Afgahnistan. DC politicians rob my family every time I get paid, they send it to Goldman Sachs bankers/Baby Boomer retirees who have know moral qualms with ponzi schemes/haliburton executives selling $400 hammers and people who don’t feel like working.
If the Taliban was so bad then why was Bush and Clinton giving them money right up until 9/11/2001? “Fighting the drug war” is what the government says. More stupidity.
The USA became great by respecting private property and the rights of individual. Now we are decaying as we expand government power to dominate every aspect of the individual. Obama has merely continued the agendas that the Bushes/Clintons/Nixons and FDR’s pushed forward.
Do you guys think Thomas Paine worshipped a flag? No, he would have shouted vulgarities at such displays of collectivism.
9/11 represented, at the very least, a total failure of the multi-trillion dollar US military/security empire? BTW, Obama just said that on this day, we should renew our dedication, i.e., pay even more, to all the employees of the agencies that failed so spectacularly eight years ago. As always, the state is the one entity on earth that, when it falls flat on its face, must get more power and money. And devotion
These endless ceremonies remind me of the monumental funereal preparations and rituals of the Ancient Egyptians. Funerals, memorials, prayers and moments of silence are nothing but futile religious attempts to overcome death and disease.
I say: let the wounded grieve at home in silence and let’s stop all this religious public grieving nonsense. Even better, let’s start grieving a little for all the Asian and South American civilians our policies have affected.
Who out there thinks that 3000 American lives are worth endless religious ceremonies while the lives of the hundreds of thousands of homeless, raped, tortured, disappeared and bombed at our hands are worth so little?
Every 9/11 memorial amounts to nothing more than yet another narcissistic celebration of the callousness of our American policies.
When I saw the twin towers collapse on TV at a friend’s house in Rio de Janeiro, it was from a perspective far different from that of my fellow Americans. I hate to throw a cold bucket on the vociferous grieving here in the USA, but the fact is that many of my fellow Latins still harbor bitter memories of Operation Condor and other recent American interventions in the internal affairs of Latin countries that led to deaths and “disappearances” of tens of thousands of Latins. Not only Castro, but other heads of state like Kirchner, Bachelet, Morales, Lula, and Chavez have good reason to despise American policies. My experiences of Latins’ sentiments on that September 11 day is well summed up by an insightful article that appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel four days after the attack. I quote it here in full, with credit to the original in German:
[translated from German]
The Mood turns against the Cowboy
“Stimmung gegen den Cowboy” Original in German — http://www.spiegel.de/
The attack at the heart of the USA causes not only mourning and horror. In Latin America, one also senses secret Schadenfreude.
Actually, they had met for dinner. Then the eight Brazilian friends sat just like all the world before the TV and focused on the scenes of catastrophe in New York.
Two doctors, an entrepreneur, a professor and a journalist were there — educated, friendly, sophisticated people from Rio de Janeiro — two of them with children who study in Boston. Like anyone, they were full of sympathy for the victims. However, that sympathy expressly excluded the USA.
Maybe it was the pictures that reminded them of a trailer of “Independence Day” and satisfied the eyes more than the head: everything appears unreal, an alien attacks the earth — the flame ripping up the tower, the dust that rages through the housing canyons of Manhattan and drives the people before it. Then come the politicians in their patriotic dress. By the time of the pep-rally speech by the president, the Brazilian friends had renamed the film they saw running there. It was now called, rather derogatorily, “Criminal Court.”
The doctor says that the Americans she knows are helpful and nice — and ignorant with respect to foreign countries, “They simply assume that all world loves them.” And her husband adds, “Now they are amazed that it is not so.”
“Their politics is the problem,” the journalist offers while ex-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger demands bombardment of Afghanistan, “Bush is an illiterate, and that makes him dangerous”. Murmur of agreement. It is all directed against TV-pictures that cause sympathy world-wide, but they brace themselves against the so-called solidarity.
“They thought they were invulnerable,” the entrepreneur says not without malice, “and then a dozen people enter the country and explode everything into the air.” After which the group, not without head-shaking admiration, discusses the perfect logistics of the assassins.
Nobody among the friends is Muslim. Islam is of no importance to them. They go to Hollywood-films, they like Frank Sinatra, they buy Häagen Dasz ice cream. However, it is almost as if those insane fanatics have articulated, in the most brutal way, the dark sentiment of resistance that lives in the breast of the cultivated Latin American.
“It is an attack on freedom,” says George W. Bush. “Nonsense,” the doctor says. “It is an attack on the USA.” And as Kissinger speaks — the man who shares responsibility for dictatorships in Latin America — nothing but disgust is registered in this cultivated group.
Just the day before, Kissinger was accused of participating in the murder of a Chilean general unwilling to take part in a coup d’etat. Many would like to see him stand trial before a court of law. Now he is a world-strategist, speaking of “wiping out” Evil — not with one single stroke of vengeance, but with a “systematic attack.” The doctor says, “That means war.”
The longer they sit together before the TV, the more they share in their anti-Americanism. And in their fear they feel that, “one can only pray that Bush commit no egregious error.“
The Brazilian daily of the next morning continues the protest bluntly. “This attack,” a commentator writes in the Jornal do Brasil, “is not surprising.” Thereupon follows the list of political failures — Washington has brazenly quit the Kyoto climate agreement, ignores the racism in its own country and intervenes in the cultures of other nations.
Even more heartless, another commentator, writes, “Pepper in the eye of another does no harm; it only burns only in one’s own.” The USA felt no sorrow for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nor for the civilians in Vietnam. Nor for the victims of the dictatorships they supported in Latin America. There is even open schadenfreude: “This cowboy doesn’t draw as quickly as he claims,” O Globo writes, “and he is vulnerable.”
And it’s not only the absolutely “americanized “ colossus of Brazil that manifests these sentiments. In numerous press commentaries in Latin America, “solidarity” is more often denied than confirmed. The invitation to participate in common mourning is refused.
In recent months, the new politics of the USA has reminded many folks of the old politics. The fact that Bush has recently filled key posts pertaining to his Latin American politics with old warriors from the Reagan-Contra Era has not escaped notice, but instead has aroused the old fears.
The day of the catastrophe has also revealed that it is not just about fanatical Palestinian women, who pass through the streets trilling, while their sons shoot volleys of ecstasy into the air. Not just about discussion forums on Chinese websites that find understanding for the perpetrators. It is about the “millions of people in the third world who are condemned to die under the American hegemony.”
No, the resentment against the USA exploits their darkest day as an occasion to give expression to long-suppressed sentiments — and with it to counter the official rank-closing of the heads of state with the White House.
And so one thing becomes clear: Their fear in beholding an injured cowboy, who in vengeance might pull off a wild shot. “One thing is sure,” one of the eight friends says this evening, “the 21st Century has begun and things look bad for our children.”
Gabe, that would be Citoyen Paine, member of the French Assembly? I understand he spent the last part of his life waving the tricoleur.
Soon after that day, when all the people on the street seems to share same stunned and stalled face (except 3 Arabs I saw celebrating and sharing candy, on 10th Ave near the cargo Post Office) and when the city collectively went silent – not even in 2 weeks, I think, I received a “black” issue of New Yorker with an article by Susan Sontag. She infuriated me. Before that day I paid little attention to politics; my own life provided more than enough causes for worry.
I canceled my subscription immediately. And I’ve never took part in hypocritical “vigils” on Union Square.
So the Saudi Arabians were celebrating, yet we fly the Bin Ladens around in private jets while bombing Afgahnistan and Iraq? Makes sense I guess. Nothing to see here.
See also my post from earlier this year: the perfect enemy.
“…that sympathy expressly excluded the USA…”
I absolutely wish all Americans would realize how hated the US by the governing elites of the world. Because then the next time there is an earthquake, a flood, a war, then they can be left to their own devices to wallow and die in their own misery: never again should America spend 1 dollar or 1 life to save Europeans, Iraqis, Chileans, Nicaraguans, Cubans, Venezuelans, or anyone else from Communism, Nazism, Fascism, Bolivarism, Chavezism, and the rest of what the world thinks of as “good government.” Let them live as they wish to live: leave them to their Jew-hating, America-hating, anti-Capitalist ways.
I think it’s pathetic that people use the terror attacks of 9/11 as a platform upon which to spew rhetoric about American policies in Latin America, as if Al Qaeda was motivated by solidarity with Brazilians and Argentinians. 9/11 was an attack on we who pose a great threat to the caliphate, not a response to US policies in South America. To the Brazilians quoted in Jimbino’s post, get over yourselves! It’s not about you, never was, and never will be.
Also, being happy about America being attacked on 9/11 because of Operation Condor is morally equivalent to being happy about the hundreds of thousands who died in the tsunamis a couple years ago because Osama lives in Asia.
Tehag and Lotharbot:
Get a dictionary and look up Schadenfreude. It is not about being happy, but more about the comeuppance due Amerika and the ignorance of the Amerikan folk who see only the suffering of their citizens and either ignore or contribute greatly to the suffering of others around the world.
There may be comeuppance due the US for its Latin America policies, but it is not in any way related to Osama, Al Qaeda, or Islamofascism. Using the suffering from the one as a platform to gloat regarding the other makes you and those you quoted look like tremendous douchebags.
Awesome article. Thank you for your sane, measured words.
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