So what will you be doing to “remember”? Grilling out, having a few beers? Getting together with friends and family to enjoy the lovely weather? Going to a “patriotic” rally to hold hands, light candles, and weep gently?
Okay, except for that last, we’re not quite there yet. But I think we can all see it coming.
Two years ago today I was convinced that every presumption I had about the future was wrong. This war, I feared, would be horrible, total, and long.
Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims. Of course some people are impatient with those who still recall the shock of 9/11; the same people were crowding the message boards of internet sites on the afternoon of the attacks, eager to blame everyone but the hijackers. They hate this nation. In their hearts, they hate humanity. They would rather cheer the perfect devils than come to the aid of a compromised angel. They can talk for hours about how wrong it was to kill babies, busboys, businessmen, receptionists, janitors, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers – and then they lean towards you, eyes wide, and they say the fatal word:
And then you realize that the eulogy is just a preface. All that concern for the dead is nothing more than the knuckle-cracking of an organist who’s going to play an E minor chord until we all agree we had it coming.
I’ve no doubt that if Seattle or Boston or Manhattan goes up in a bright white flash there will be those who blame it all on Bush. We squandered the world’s good will. We threw away the opportunity to atone, and lashed out. Really? You want to see lashing out? Imagine Kabul and Mecca and Baghdad and Tehran on 9/14 crowned with mushroom clouds: that’s lashing out. Imagine the President in the National Cathedral castigating Islam instead of sitting next to an Imam who’s giving a homily. Mosques burned, oil fields occupied, smart bombs slamming into Syrian palaces. We could have gone full Roman on anyone we wanted, but we didn’t. And we won’t.
Which is why this war will be long.
Long, hell. It’s why we lost.
This morning CBS This Morning ran as its concluding story a 9/11 remembrance piece, focused mostly on the new WTC. Not once in the whole thing were the words “Islam” or “Muslim” uttered—not by interviewers, narrator, or interviewees, not by anybody. There are still pockets of resistance to the whitewashing of history, however:
A group of New York Muslims has taken offense at a small town’s new memorial honoring those who died in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier fired off a letter to city leaders in Owego – alleging that words engraved in the granite memorial would encourage hatred toward Muslims.
Know what really encourages hatred toward Muslims, asswipe? Muslim terrorism. And, beyond that, any familiarity at all with Islam itself, which is one of the greatest atrocities mankind ever perpetrated against itself.
“They want us to change the word from ‘Islamic Terrorist’ to either ‘terrorist’ or ‘Al Qaeda terrorist,’” City Manager Donald Castelluci told me. “I sent them back an email saying I disagreed with their premise 100 percent.”
The entire inscription reads:
“On September 11, 2001 nineteen Islamic terrorists unsuspectedly boarded four airliners departing east coast airports to hijack the planes and carry out a series of coordinated attacks against the United States. This is a tribute to all the lives lost that day and to the heroic sacrifice of all who rushed to help. As Americans, we honor their memory by living our lives in freedom. We will never forget.”
Mr. Castelluci said they have no plans to change a single letter in the town’s memorial.
“I don’t live in a politically correct world,” he told Fox affiliate WICZ. “I live in a historical fact world…whether it’s American, homegrown, Christianity, Islamic, you call it what it is. And we don’t whitewash things, especially here.”
Good on ya, Mr Manager. Would that there were more like you; in a saner nation, one wherein half the population hasn’t been brainwashed by America-loathing Leftists into believing that every bad thing that happens is our fault, you’d be in the majority by an overwhelming margin. In the America we’re stuck with, though, it took a lot of courage to stand up for the simple truth like this, and my hat’s off to you for it.
Update! Can’t have a proper remembrance post without some vintage Steyn:
What was taking place that Tuesday morning was, as a lot of people said, “unimaginable.” But once it happened, once we no longer had to imagine it, my main memory of that day is of how quickly the mind leapt forward to encompass the new reality. When the second plane hit, it was obvious not just that this was no accident but that it would be impossible to find two commercial airline pilots willing to fly, even at the point of a gun, their jets into skyscrapers. Which meant that, at the moment of impact, these flights must have been in the hands of terrorists who’d trained as pilots presumably for the purpose of this mission: They had acquired at least basic skills in a profession that would guarantee a good life anywhere on the planet; they could be pulling down six-figure salaries instead of Manhattan skyscrapers. But instead they went to pilot school in order to make one flight one time one-way, into a tall building.
And halfway across the world, on the streets of Ramallah, people filled the streets and cheered and passed out candy. They celebrated at Concordia University in Montreal, and in northern England and in Scandinavia, too, but I didn’t find that out until e-mail from readers began coming through later in the day. In Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and his colleagues followed events on the Arabic Service of the BBC. (Not all the BBC’s output is in Arabic; it just sounds like it is.)
As the years go by, it’s these curious examples of cultural interconnectedness that stay with me. “Interconnectedness” is the word used by the late Edward Said, the New York-based Palestinian grievance-monger and eminent America-disparager: a couple of weeks after 9/11, the professor deplored the tendency of commentators to separate cultures into what he called “sealed-off entities”, when in reality western civilization and the Muslim world are so “intertwined” that it was impossible to “draw the line” between them. National Review’s Rich Lowry was unimpressed. “The line seems pretty clear,” he said. “Developing mass commercial aviation and soaring skyscrapers was the west’s idea; slashing the throats of stewardesses and flying the planes into the skyscrapers was radical Islam’s idea.”
Very true. But that may be the only “interconnectedness” a large part of the world is interested in: state-of-the-art technology in the service of ancient hatreds. Edward Said was right: there are no more “sealed-off entities.” The “modern world” and the “primitive world” are more like those overlaid area codes the phone company’s so partial to. So a man can roar “Allahu Akhbar!” as he ploughs his jet into an office building. Even the most primitive parts of the map aren’t that “sealed off” these days. After all, why were they listening to the BBC’s Arabic Service in Afghanistan? Afghanistan isn’t an Arabic-speaking country. They parly-voo the old Pushtun and Dari and Turkmen and whatnot. But on September 11th 2001 the nation was, in effect, under colonial occupation by thousands of Arab and other foreign jihadists. We think of the badlands of the Afghan-Pakistani border as a remote region of isolated peoples whose rituals have been unchanged for centuries. Yet the truth is that these village tribal cultures have been wholly subverted by Saudi money and ideology. The House of Saud’s toxic kingdom, a land where the beheading schedule is computerized, may be a more apt emblem of the way an “interconnected” world is heading than we like to think.
In The New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote: “The failure to prevent Sept 11 was not a failure of intelligence or co-ordination. It was a failure of imagination.” That’s not really true. Islamist terrorists had indicated their interest in US landmarks, and were known to have plans to hijack planes to fly into them. But men like John O’Neill could never quite get the full attention of a somnolent federal bureaucracy. The terrorists must have banked on that: after all, they took their pilot-training classes in America, apparently confident that, even if anyone noticed the uptick in Arab enrollments at US flight schools, a squeamish culture of political correctness would ensure nothing was done about it.
Five years on, half America has retreated to the laziest old tropes, filtering the new struggle through the most drearily cobwebbed prisms: all dramatic national events are JFK-type conspiracies, all wars are Vietnam quagmires. Meanwhile, Ramzi Yousef’s successors make their ambitions as plain as he did: they want to acquire nuclear technology in order to kill even more of us. And, given that free societies tend naturally toward a Katrina mentality of doing nothing until it happens, one morning we will wake up to another day like the “day that changed everything.” September 11th was less “a failure of imagination” than an ability to see that America’s enemies were hiding in plain sight.
They still are.
Yep—only more so, as our “leaders” continue to bring in more and more of them, unvetted, to “hide in plain sight” in our very neighborhoods. Meanwhile, another massive attack like 9/11 will remain “unimaginable.” Until one day, all of a sudden, it isn’t.