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Is there anything left that matters?

Posted by Rick · September 10th, 2003 · 2 Comments

All I can say tonight is that I wish I’d said what Sister Joan Chittister said.

This is perhaps the most thought-provoking thing I’ve read this year.

Special thanks to Mark King for bringing this to my attention.

Categories: The Decline of America


2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joe // Sep 11, 2003 at 3:02 pm

    This is from the Wall St. Journal daily OpinionJournal

    Two Years Later
    Everything may have changed on Sept. 11 two years ago, but not necessarily in the ways one would have expected. American politics is the most striking case in point. Given the bipartisan unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on America, one had reason to hope for a revival of the early Cold War adage that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” And indeed, except for the lunatic fringes of the Democratic left, this seemed to be the case for better than a year after the attack.

    The turning point seems to have been the 2002 election. Having lost control of the Senate, the Democrats lost control of themselves. The party is now dominated by 21st-century Copperheads who exult in every setback and refuse to acknowledge any success–all because they have convinced themselves that it is the “Bush administration,” rather than their country, that is fighting the war.

    “The story of the summer is that the American people refused to be panicked by the media, the Democrats and the Europeans,” writes Mark Steyn in The Spectator:

    Indeed, the awesome divide between the postmodern sophists and everybody else is the real legacy of 11 September. As the day itself recedes into the past, the splinter it opened up in the settled international order gets wider and wider to the point where 9/11 is a fault line through reality itself. Depending on which side you stand, success is failure, victory is disaster.

    The fatuity of those sophists infuriates blogress Sheila O’Malley, who describes her reaction to a recent PBS documentary harping on American “hubris”:

    They spoke of symbols. They spoke of globalization (and they all took the position, as if there were no possible fair-minded question about it, that globalization was a bad thing). They spoke of symbols of globalization. They spoke of hubristic symbols of globalization. . . .

    Kudos to you if you are able to float so loftily above the dirt and grime of REAL EVENTS, and see everything in an abstract way, see everything as a symbol. Great for you for being able to be so cut off. Not all of us can do that, and I, for one, do not WANT to do that. Those buildings were part of my skyline. I took classes there. I went there every week. I knew the security guards, and the woman who sold me orange juice. I took the Path train into the buildings. They were not SYMBOLS. There was nothing abstract about them. They were buildings in downtown Manhattan, filled with people.

    During the section where they talked about September 11 . . . I realized how we never ever see the footage anymore. Footage of those planes going in, of people plummeting, has disappeared. I mean, I know this with my mind, obviously, but to really realize how those images have vanished, how . . . I have lost touch with . . . the horror of the visual . . . So again . . . after so much time . . . watching . . . I re-lived what happened that day. I re-discovered it. Not with my mind. But in my body. That familiar cold horror. No tears. Horror way too deep for tears. Rage. The people falling, one, then another, then another . . . somersaulting through the empty air. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles. . . .

    Seeing those images again made me outraged at those of us who chide others to get over it. I am stunned that anyone could ever look at the carnage on that footage (and I saw the whole damn thing with my actual eyes)–and somehow . . . not be changed. Get OVER IT? What? Are you out of your goddamned freaking mind? What is the MATTER with you?

    Compare this with a post this morning from hyperpartisan Democratic blogger Josh Marshall. He opens with a moving reminiscence of waking up to the attacks two years ago, and then describes watching a wrenching CNN documentary:

    I hadn’t seen or didn’t remember the close-ups, the zoom-ins of people on the upper floors leaning out the windows and waiving shirts or clothes into the air, trying to grab the attention of helicopters circling nearby, hoping for help. . . .

    There is something unbearable about seeing people clinging to hope when, you know, there is no hope. Their fate is sealed; they just didn’t know it yet. Those were the pictures that even today made me grit my teeth and twist up my face.

    But for Marshall, this is all a lead-in to the usual Bush-hating talking points:

    As the documentary moved toward the aftermath, I wondered whether those thoughts of mine would seep into the present to color what’s happening today.

    They didn’t.

    What I felt wasn’t continuity but the jarring contrast, the cheap, obvious lies, the hubris, the tough-talk for low ends, not so much the mistakes as the tawdriness of so much of what’s happened, especially over the last eighteen months.

    Writing in The Nation, someone called Jonathan Schell, who is the “Harold Willens Peace Fellow of the Nation Institute,” makes explicit the case against victory:

    [Sen. Joseph] Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war–a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway).

    “Vietnam provides an example,” Schell adds. “Vietnam today enjoys the self-determination it battled to achieve for so long.” In fact, after Congress–dominated by Democrats elected in the wake of Watergate–cut off aid to South Vietnam in 1975, it was overrun by the communist North, which imposed a totalitarian system of government. That’s an odd idea of “self-determination.”

    Democrats, apart from fringe characters like Dennis Kucinich, don’t go as far as Schell does. But many of them do seem to yearn for George W. Bush to fail–an outcome that also requires America to fail

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Sep 11, 2003 at 4:40 pm


    How ironic and yet appropriate that I spotted your comment AFTER my latest post: “Who’s Really Unpatriotic?”

    Seeing George Bush fail does not require seeing America fail. That’s another version of the false dichotomy about which I just finished writing before I spotted your comment.

    It’s entirely possible to honor the dead, love America, hope (and WORK) for the country’s success AND criticize George Bush and his Regime (or, since you prefer, “Administration”—in a later post, I’ll explain why “Administration” is inappropriate).

    I don’t believe that bipartisanship began to fail in 2002 when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. It certainly was more manifest at that point, as Republicans gleefully ended all attempts at engaging in politics (look it up) and turned instead to trying to push bills through Congress without discussion, removing Democrats from congressional libraries and handing Halliburton and Bechtel—excuse me, I meant President Bush, of course; Halliburton and Bechtel had absolutely nothing to do with the war as they’ve never had any connection with any member of government and don’t even accept foreign contracts; but wait! Iraq isn’t really “foreign” now that we own it!—a blank check with which to wage a war against a “threat” that didn’t exist (but which did/does have the second-largest underground reservoir of oil in the world).

    Let me state quite clearly I see no one and nothing much to celebrate in the Democrat Party, either, but they aren’t the ones laboring to take away the freedoms and civil rights of ordinary citizens.

    Go read, “Who’s Really Unpatriotic?” and then come back to talk to me.

    P.S. Change your bookmarks. I’ve registered a new domain; “www.unspun.us” is now in operation. I’m thinking of selling all my other domains so’s I can “focus.” 😉

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