It seemed, in the days after 9/11, as though we stood at the juncture of many possible futures. There was as much hope as grief, as much love as anger, and a powerful sense of resilience. We still stand at the juncture of many possible futures. They are occasioned not by what terrorists in four airliners did to us, but by what we have done in the decade since. As a nation, we have done a better job of living with our fears, sadly, than nurturing the expansive spirit of community that arose in those early days.
We are still learning about the events of 9/11, and in truth, 10 years is a short window to assess the consequences of those attacks. Perhaps in time we will realize that the full meaning of what happened on 9/11 resides in the surge of compassion and hope that accompanied the shock and mourning of that September day.One can only shake one's head in sheer wonderment at such sappiness. Rather than nurturing the expansive spirit of community, one would have hoped that, a decade on, the NYT, the bible of the American left, could have nurtured a clue or two (about Islamic holy war, about the the jihad imperative embedded in Islam's core texts, about, well, the world as it is and not as a Hallmark card might envision it).
Update: Bruce Bawer writes:
The divisions that ensued after 9/11 weren’t any one person’s, or party’s, fault. If we’d had a president who had dared to speak the truth about our enemies and about the ideology (which is to say theology) that motivates them, and had done so eloquently and stirringly and repeatedly, à la Churchill — instead of pretending that all religions are by definition good and that the hijackers had “betrayed” their faith (as if it were the job of any American president to judge who was or was not a “good” Muslim) — it might have made a huge difference. Such an assertive, informed response might have helped to overcome the ideological depredations of Michael Moore, Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone, and others, which did such appalling damage. But perhaps not. Perhaps the poison of multiculturalism — the fear of acknowledging that our enemies were, in fact, our enemies — was simply too potent. In the years after 9/11, politicians, journalists, professors, and schoolteachers alike cowed millions of Americans into being scared of even saying, flat out, why those people had piloted those planes into those buildings. In doing so, they crippled our ability to respond in a strong, unified, and self-assured way to a threat that did not end that day but that is ongoing.I wonder if Bawer took a look-see at what Bush said to the American people on that day. In retrospect, it was everything it should have been--calm yet impassioned, eloquent even if he doesn't quite manage to rise to the level of a Churchill, and, most crucially perhaps, unafraid to mention that this is a fight between good and evil. What's been lost since then, it seems to me, is that clarity.
Update: Pamela Geller describes her own journey--and mine, too:
I felt guilty that I didn't know who had attacked my country. And when I found out, I felt guilty that I didn't know why they attacked my country, my identity, my family. I spent the ensuing years studying Islam, Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye'or, Robert Spencer, etc. The media was absent on jihad and increasingly I found myself on the net ......... the rest is history.