Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Later

UPDATE: remembering a haunting hymn.

On September 11, 2001, three of my friends were murdered:
I claim no special kinship or victimhood nor. . . any familial relation. My loss [was] only 1/1000th of America's.

But I cannot--I will not--forget the 3000 Americans murdered that day. Neither Karen, Barbara or Linda were soldiers. Nor religious fanatics. They were ordinary Americans traveling on business. None of them, and none of us, did anything to "deserve" it.
Bruce Thornton looks into the continued muddle about the attack:
Four years after 9/11 the postmortem of that disaster continues to focus on the institutional failures of our intelligence agencies and government bureaucracies. Yet the larger intellectual and cultural corruption that in part made possible many of those misjudgments and mistakes does not receive the public attention it deserves. The politicizing of the academy, for example, that accelerated in the sixties had compromised the study of Islam and the Middle East long before Islamic terrorism appeared on our cultural radar. Because of this ideological distortion, centuries of consensus about the aggressive, intolerant, and expansionist nature of Islam –– an agreement reflecting both the facts of the historical record and the words themselves of the Koran and Muslim theologians and jurists –– were discarded in the service of an anti-Western political and ideological agenda.

In this politicized narrative, the West is the arch-villain of history, and its primal sins of colonialism and imperialism are the engines of oppression responsible for all the world’s ills. . . The result has been a reduction of history to a melodrama in which a noble, tolerant, cultured Islamic world had been unjustly attacked by an intolerant, greedy West addled by Christian bigotry and racist stereotypes of blood-thirsty jihadist warriors. All the problems in the Middle East today, in this Orwellian rewriting of history, thus derive not from anything dysfunctional in Islam or Arab regimes but rather in the sins of the West and its Middle Eastern minion, Israel.
This is part of the fashionable, but erroneous, triumph of uncertainty and nuance so common among the left, especially in academia. Ronald Reagan's success was founded on his unparalleled ability to simplify, a truth that draws hoots and smirks from liberals. The left's not right on this one. They're but a short step from the whack-a-mole conspiracy theories recently anthologized by MEMRI.

Steve Golding, who worked in lower Manhattan, understands that. He produced two famous "flash" videos, one remembering all four attacks and a second focused on the Pentagon.1 Steve explained his motivation:
This has been a work-in-progress and began the day after the attack at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I survived the attack itself by being late to work that day, but I lost many people who were not so lucky. I created the page to honor those I lost, those that America had lost and all of those dedicated, caring human beings who responded to this wanton cowardly act and who we refer to simply as heroes. To help sustain our nation resolve while we respond to this horrific attack. Images of that day2 are burnt into my soul that I will never forget. Images that no one should ever see. My soul aches. . .

Please don't e-mail me about trying to understand the folks that did this. I have no interest in understanding them. I want them dead. Don't e-mail me about innocent people being accidentally killed in a warzone. I am uninterested in their plight and if that sounds cold, go review my website again. None of THOSE people were at war on 11 September and they are not casualties of war. They were murdered. I don't want their murderers treated as war criminals; I want them treated as they are--subhuman criminals who committed crimes against humanity. I don't want to hug them, analyze them or anything other than annihilate them. Wipe them off the face of the earth.
In four years, I've come to understand the liberty of certainty. Leftists berate this as bigotry, feeble-mindedness, or a dead end. It's nothing of the sort. But certainty is essential to support action. The left avoids acting by insisting on complexity. Such indecision will never liberate the oppressed or challenge the oppressor.

The modernity fostered by Western Civilization is its worst enemy. There is a serious and legitimate disparity of views on issues like Federalism, free speech and gay marriage. But, as James Lileks says, "we can argue about the future of Western Civilization after we've ensured Western Civilization will survive."

Since October 2001, I'm increasingly optimistic. Americans can confront -- and are confronting -- our greatest challenge. The shift away from inaction is both mature and necessary. So I agree with SC&A:
There is much that can and will be said on that day, but for now, a reminder.

America's best days are yet to come.
Join me, and we can bear witness together.


I first heard the hymn "Earth and all stars" (Episcopal: 412; Presbyterian 458; Lutheran: 438; Calvinist 433; Mennonite: 47) at a post September 11th funeral. Though widely derided, it's a well known modern work and hauntingly appropriate for mourning victims of the terrorist attacks. I thought of it again at halftime of today's Redskins game, when the scoreboard scrolled the names of those killed at the Pentagon four years ago. The melody is here; below are verses 1, 4 and 5:
1. Earth and all stars! loud rushing planets
sing to the Lord a new song!
Oh, victory! Loud hosts of heaven
sing to the Lord a new song!
God has done marvelous things.
I too, I too sing praises with a new song!
4. Engines and steel! loud pounding hammers
sing to the Lord a new song!
Limestone and beams! loud building workers
sing to the Lord a new song!.....( Refrain)

5. Knowledge and truth! loud sounding wisdom
sing to the Lord a new song!
Daughter and son! loud praising members
sing to the Lord a new song!.....( Refrain)
Still More:

Another excellent slide-show at Pajamas Media. And SC&A remembers September 11th in two posts. And surf to Stop The ACLU's story. Plus, Mark Steyn:
As part of their ongoing post-9/11 convergence, the left now talks about Bush the way the wackier Islamists talk about Jews. . .

On this fourth anniversary we are in a bizarre situation: The war is being won -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, the broader Middle East and many other places where America has changed the conditions on the ground in its favor. But at home the war about the war is being lost. When the media look at those Bush approval ratings -- currently hovering around 40 percent -- they carelessly assume the 60 percent is some unified Kerry-Hillary-Cindy bloc. It's not. It undoubtedly includes people who are enthusiastic for whacking America's enemies, but who don't quite get the point of this somewhat desultory listless phase. If the "war" is now a push for democratization and liberalization in Middle East dictatorships, that's a worthy cause but not one sufficiently primal to keep the attention of the American people. You'd have had the same problem in the Second World War if four years after Pearl Harbor we were postponing D-Day in order to nation-build in the Solomon Islands.
More x 3:

Don't forget the heroes of that day, including Rick Rescorla. And read more clarity from Sparks from the Anvil and from the White House. Finally, Winds of Change assembles a huge round-up.

More x 4:

Further thoughts from A Certain Slant of Light, California Yankee, Cao's Blog, Beldar and Jawa Report.

1 The soundtrack for the first video is Enya's Only Time from her 2000 album A Day Without Rain. Four years on, I think of September 11th whenever I hear that song.

2 See also
Charles Johnson's slide show at Little Green Footballs.

(via LGF, twice)


Jeff Faria said...

I love Only Tiime.

I've put my own 5 minute video memorial online. No burning buildings, no rubble, no explosions, no speeches, no screeches, no Bin Laden, no bodies. Just a remembrance of some people whose lives were cut short through no fault of their own, with poignant candid snapshots from their lives, with musical background.

Anonymous said...

I actually haven't heard that song for awhile... I just updated my latest blog entry yesterday evening, with another song, that may also be appropriate for this occasion... I was using it though, as something to symbolize what myself and others need to do, due to all the tragedy that's occurred during the past couple of weeks.

I remember, at a gathering a couple of months after 9/11, when that song came on, Erika Harold (who would later become Miss America) mentioned that she loved that song. Another student mentioned that that song had been dubbed, for use after 9/11. (I think that's what he said... Though it may be because I heard it on the radio like that, with the voices of President Bush [and others?] mixed within the music.)

Yes, that is a beautiful song... I remember that when that atrocity occurred, they had uplifting songs on the radio station... I wish I had a list or something of the ones that they played; that would be a useful compilation, for other turbulent times.

But when 9/11 happened, everyone came together. That was one of the positive side-effects of the horrible events of that day.

Thank you for posted this entry... I just came back to your blog, due to a web search, which showed me a comment that I had posted at one of your past entries.

I don't agree with some of your positions... specifically with regard to foreign policy matters. But you seem to be a top-notch, prolific weblogger... Thanks again for posting an entry commemorating this anniversary.

Irina Tsukerman said...

I'm sorry about the deaths of your friends.

A great entry; I concur!

NYgirl said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your friends. I too lost a friend & it changed me forever.

You've done a great job remembering your friends.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Mr. Snitch, well done!

Thanks for the thoughts and condolences to all -- whether or not we agree on foreign policy. Like NY Girl, September 11th changed my life. Thankfully, our losses brought out the best in most, hence my optimism.

appell8 said...

Thanks, among all else, for remembering the legendary Rick Rescorla.
Who deserves the thanks of more than one thankful nation.

Cogito Subito said...

I disagree with the comments that suggest we shouldn't try to understand our enemies and instead just want them dead. That often ends up causing more conflict than it resolves. If this is liberal, so be it, but we Americans have come a long way in improving the human situation because of our willingness to explore others' ideas and positions . . . and to change our policies WHEN necessary. As my mother used to say, "Keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out." We need certainty and action, but we also need to be careful. Let's not burn any more witches. We must stop terrorists, but let's not stop trying to eliminate the incentives to engage in terrorism.

I lost a lot on 9/11: a dear friend and, thus, a lot of my optimism for mankind, but I am fighting the pessimism and cynicism so that their deaths will not be in vain.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Wow. Very powerful post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carl. Also thank you for linking my 9/11 post and commenting there. Means a lot, for that post.

I like your blog and will be linking you in my blogroll.