Three Essays on 9/11


It is, of course, the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Millions of words have been written. WC declines to add many more. Instead, WC instead offers three essays by writers WC admires, each in its own way reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack, and how to best understand the changes the attacks made in the American people.

Andrew Sulivan’s essay in Newsweek is a remarkable insight into what we let bin Laden and Al -Qaeda do to us afterwards. Best quote:

Bin Laden and his henchmen failed, in other words. But our own fear won. Fear stopped us, overwhelmed us, as our ra-tion-al-ity deserted us. Yes, it was understandable, given what we endured that September morning. But we need to admit that our response was close to fatal. A bankrupted America that tortured innocents and disregarded its own Constitution is barely recognizable as America.

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has a good essay focused on the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a response to 9/11. Best quote:

As a candidate for president, George W. Bush famously argued that to command respect in the world, we needed to demonstrate not only strength but also humility. In office, though, the humility gave way to hubris. President Bush got it wrong.

Finally, WC points to Susan Jacoby’s excellent essay in the Washington Post, calling out the distinction between sacralization and memorialization:

I do know that before we Americans do any more lying to ourselves about external attacks having changed everything, we need to ask ourselves honest questions about why the initial sense of unity after 9/l1 disappeared so quickly. That is not the terrorists’ fault and cannot be remedied by sanctimonious meditations about American suffering that was, for most Americans, second-hand suffering.

WC will observe the moment of silence. Not because the government wants him to do so. Not because we as a people have behaved sensibly, practically or even as we might aspire in reaction to the tragedy. No, WC will observe a moment of silence in the hope that we, as a people, can regain out emotional balance, set aside paranoia, witch hunts and jingoism at some time over the next ten years.

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