My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


In Defense of "9/12" 

Yeah, that's me in the Letters to the Editor of the Denver Post this morning. The Post had to edit out quite a bit, and quite a bit of what got edited was what I considered to be pretty important, so here is the full text:

On September 10, as Ed notes in his curmudgeonly fashion, unemployment was low, the economy appeared strong, and our military posture around the world was, shall we say, reduced. Of course, we were still operating under the assumption that two oceans protected us from many of the realities of the world at large, and if some (Ed included, I assume) chose to ignore the obvious threat of the three terrorist attacks Ed lists, then the world was a very kind and peaceful place. The 9/10 world was a world in which the real measure of our leaders was how narrowly they parsed the phrase “tax cut” or how delicately they balanced science and the ethics of life. And the 9/10 world was one in which lawyers, not soldiers, made important national security decisions from safely behind desks.

9/11, of course, changed all that. 9/11 was a direct and effective strike at our economy, which caused massive shock waves throughout the markets, driving unemployment up for a time and curtailing economic activity. It also introduced to the lexicon some of the phrases Mr. Quillen lists, along with a few others: vigilance, asymmetrical warfare, and “Religion of Peace.” I, too, was fond of peace and prosperity; however, for my children’s sake, I prefer to deal with reality, and wish our leaders had done that, too.

Of course, in his typical fashion, Mr. Quillen misses the whole point. “9/12” is not used to invoke a date—it is used to invoke a feeling. After the initial shock, Americans rushed to be Americans again, and we saw the world as it actually is. The strike at our innocence made us all recognize again our own exceptionalism and the fact that what brings us together is not an accident of genetics but the result of choices made by either ourselves or someone in our ancestry. It would never have occurred to us to fly any flag other than the American flag that day because all of us e pluribi—Irish, Polish, African, Mexican, Russian, Chinese—were united in the Unum. And we would, for a few days it seems, stop looking at our political adversaries as enemies and recognize that there was a difference between opponents and actual enemies.

Personally, I think the return to a 9/10 mindset happened altogether too quickly and seamlessly. How else do you explain how a soldier who did something really stupid at Abu Graib is serving a 10-year sentence but the mastermind of the murders of thousands around the world is controversially held in a place where he gets 3-square a day properly prepared, has his Koran handed to him by a gloved guard, and knows which way to turn to pray because we’ve painted the compass point on the floor for him? So take comfort, Mr. Quillen—you are well-accompanied in your quest to return to 9/10; let’s just hope there are enough 9/12-ers around to help you when the world comes knocking again.

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