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9/11 Blues

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In a quiet TV ad that has been running in the New York market, people silently show where they were on 9/11, when they heard the news. A woman sitting on her bed leans over slightly; a man stands in what looks to be an empty firehouse common room; another man on a deserted subway platform points to an empty subway car. The isolation speaks to lost loved ones and comrades not in the picture, to the aloneness of grief that has not subsided.

The ad is for an organization seeking to get the stalled 9/11 memorial moving again. I don’t know anything about the organization, so I can’t say whether they’re the good guys or the bad guys in a politicized battle. I hope they’re the good guys.

In any event, seeing the ad, or film clips or images from 9/11, I feel the same as I did back then.

A few weeks after 9/11, some of the most powerful commercials ever made were broadcast. One of them, sponsored by Dow Jones, the stock market people, showed a few silent men in business attire standing in an office, looking into the camera. But they were not grieving. One man in particular stood out. He was a tall, broad-shouldered black man of about 40 in shirtsleeves, arms crossed, and with a grimly determined jaw. The word “strength” flashed on the screen.

Another ad, by local talk radio station WABC, showed a few well-chosen words on a backdrop of red, white, and blue, with the voices of children in the background.

There are some things from which you’re not supposed to “move on,” at least not in the public sense.

I realize that some people who lost the love of their life that day have since fallen in love with, or even married, someone else. I am the last person to begrudge them their happiness. That’s the private sense of “moving on.” Those who were directly hit on 9/11 will never feel the same about that day as the rest of us. But if someone told me he no longer felt moved at the anniversary of 9/11, I would think him less than fully human.

Not everyone feels the same.

Some qualify the worst day in American history as “one of the worst days.”

I can still remember getting up that morning at 10 a.m. As I wrote at the time, on the radio an announcer intoned, “The World Trade Center is under attack.”

We were only able to get a snow-filled picture from the local CBS affiliate (the other broadcast channels all had had their antennas on the roof of one of the WTC towers). We saw the remaining tower, amid clouds of debris from its sister tower, which had just gone down. I figured it was all an overly dramatic version of those Emergency Broadcast System tests (“This is a test… ”). But it was no test. Three thousand dead in New York, the Pentagon, and a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania attest to that.

Remembering Heroes

Some positives remain from that day.

A handful of heroic passengers and crew members on United Airlines Flight 93 took a stand and stopped that airliner from reaching the terrorists’ likely target, the Capitol Building.

Rudy Giuliani, who himself escaped from the World Trade Center that morning by the skin of his teeth, and lost many friends there, gave a lesson for the ages in leadership and grit.

(Although I have criticized Giuliani’s shortcomings much more incisively than have his ever-raging Democrat opponents, who in a handful of different ways simply express their homicidal rage over a white, heterosexual, male Republican winning election in a city with a 5-1 Democrat advantage in registered voters, seeing him speak at the fifth-year remembrance, it was as if the Mayor had just returned from a long vacation. We New Yorkers shall not see his like again.)

And giants walked the earth: 343 firemen and 60 policemen, as well as “civilians” like 24-year-old Sandler O’Neil, an equities trader, and Welles Crowther, a Nyack, New York volunteer fireman, ran straight into the mouth of hell to save countless others, never to re-emerge. As Tennyson wrote in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,”

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

It will take a latter-day Tennyson to do justice to their sacrifice.

Too Many Syllables

Our president, who seems to have lost his way, in seeking to fight wars in Moslem countries, while leaving our own nation unguarded against invasion and terrorism, has recently said that we are at war with “Islamic fascists.” Former Navy secretary and 9/11 Commission prima donna John Lehman found that phrase unsatisfactory, and in an op-ed essay that has been making the rounds via syndication, has insisted that we are at war with people who misrepresent Islam.

Would Lehman resurrect “the religion of peace” motif?

The Bush administration continues to muddle a national understanding of the conflict we are in by calling it the “war on terror.” This political correctness presumably seeks to avoid hurting the feelings of the Saudis and other Muslims, but it comes at high cost. This is not a war against terror any more than World War II was a war against kamikazes.

We are at war with jihadists motivated by a violent ideology based on an extremist interpretation of the Islamic faith.

No, Mr. Secretary, we are at war with jihadis motivated by a proper interpretation of the Islamic faith. The problem isn’t “Islamism,” it’s Islam.

And yet, I fear that the President’s tough talk about “Islamic fascists” is just election-year rhetoric, meant to fire up the base (i.e., “the suckers”).

Bad news: Last year, the federal government made over 95,000 Arab Moslems from terrorist-supporting countries, the largest number in over 20 years, permanent lawful resident aliens. (A tip ‘o the hat to’s Brenda Walker.) We should instead have been ejecting them from or refusing them entry into the country.

But it gets worse. On September 11, Rob Sanchez, who edits and publishes the Job Destruction Newsletter, reported that President Bush “and Saudi King Abdullah brokered a deal to fast track thousands of Saudi students into the USA. You probably don't need to be reminded where the 9/11 terrorists came from or of the fact that most of them used student visas. If there is any doubt about whether Bush is insane, this ought to erase them.”

As reported by the Associated Press, in “US Schools Compete for Thousands of Saudi Students,”

The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars here by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to the Kansas plains are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.

The anonymous AP reporter continues, without irony, “The kingdom's royal family — which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students — says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country's brightest in the American tradition. The U.S. State Department sees the exchange as a way to build ties with future Saudi leaders and young scholars at a time of unsteady relations with the Muslim world.”

In Saudi, “unrest at home” typically means Al Qaeda. The “program will help stem unrest at home” by exporting it here. The Western-schooled Moslem terrorist has become so common as to be a cliché. I wish I could say the AP article was dated September 9, 2001, but it was in fact published on Saturday.

On top of the President’s embrace of Arab Moslems, articulate Jew-haters (with whom I am in bed politically on immigration – arrrrgh!) are promoting the 9/11 blood libel, according to which not jihadis, but Jews did it! (The most exhaustive study of the 9/11 blood libel was undertaken by Richard Shand.)

Remembering Cowards and Traitors

And treason never seems to go out of fashion. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller is reportedly bragging, in a new New York magazine story, about how he stood up to President Bush’s pressure not to compromise the National Security Agency program eavesdropping on the cell phone calls of domestic Al Qaeda supporters. The compromising of that program won the paper, in the person of Timesman James Risen, yet another dubious Pulitzer Prize.

One could easily yearn for the sort of national unity of purpose immediately following 9/11, for a contemporary “moral equivalent of war,” notwithstanding that – as millions seem to have forgotten – we are still at war! But then one recalls that less than three weeks after 9/11, already unity was lacking.

Talking of an impending “quagmire” in Afghanistan (yes, Afghanistan!), the New York Times tried to sandbag America out of striking back against Al Qaeda. Now that real torture, administered exclusively by Arabs, has returned to the daily routine at Abu Ghraib prison, the disloyal newspaper that used exaggeration to fabricate a “torture scandal” at the same prison, in order to hamstring the war effort, has fallen silent.

Immediately following 9/11, the socialist/communist Left insisted that we not exact “revenge” against those who had attacked us. Eventually, they called on our troops to shoot their own officers. When pro-Japanese traitors such as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad sought to undermine the war effort following Pearl Harbor, they were jailed for the duration for sedition.

And in late September 2001, the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke for millions of frustrated blacks who were outraged over and jealous of the seemingly indomitable Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s pre- and post-9/11 triumphs, in spite of Sharpton’s earlier threats to do to the city what Al Qaeda ultimately did do.

We elected you mayor, not Messiah. You didn't bring us together, our pain brought us together and our decency brought us together.

Decency, indeed, Rev. Al. And who is “we”?

And there was no lack of stupid Democrat tricks, like former counter-terrorism czar Dick Clarke writing a thoroughly dishonest book about 9/11, in order to try and help the Democrats win the 2004 election, or Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger getting caught stuffing classified, pre-9/11 national security documents in his underwear at the National Archives, after he had already stolen and destroyed other essential documents, in an attempt to protect his old chief from the judgment of history for the latter’s lapses against Islamic terror.

You can’t even count on war anymore for national unity.

In remembering 9/11, we must not forget the heroes… or the heels.

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About Nicholas Stix

  • Arch Conservative

    I think my favorite memory from the 911 aftermath was when Hillary Clinton was booed offstage by NYC firemen and policemen at a benefit concert.

  • Nicholas Stix

    Id forgotten about that! That was wonderful! One of my editors commented that when he saw I was writing about heroes AND heels, he was afraid the piece would go on forever.

  • I think she’s absolutely right. Think of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” It’s a large, raucous, expansiv

    Yeah well I can’t wait until the ACLU loving moonbats discover this piece and start lecturing us on how tough they are on terrorists.

  • JP

    Sad to read that article from this past Saturday. Doesn’t seem like a safe program to be expanding, honestly.

    Still, I must disagree here from another angle–you talk about wishing we still had the unified sense of purpose, as if we still have the same national objective we did at that time.

    Immediately after 9/11, America WAS unified (and still is, I’d venture to say) in a desire to see the perpetrators brought to justice. That means Osama Bin Laden. Many of us still look forward to his capture and trial.

    But then the mission expanded–the fight to bring Bin Laden to justice became the “War on Terror,” first stop: Iraq. We barely had time to accept that we’d lost Bin Laden at Tora Bora before we were talking up “Shock and Awe,” and a VERY QUICK WAR, to rid the world of Saddam’s WMD.

    As the Iraq situation has become more and more depressing, the mission has now become even more vague–to spread democracy to the Middle East. Many people don’t believe our sons should be dying to “spread” our socio-economic system, or that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, but do believe chasing and capturing Bin Laden would have been worthwhile.

    The problem, in essence, is the Bush/Cheney expansion of the mission from a response to 9/11 to the grand spread of freedom to the Middle East. Bush has tried to sell this as a way to combat the prevalence of terrorism, but no-one knows if it will work. Plus, many educated individuals believe there are other strategies we could choose besides bombing people into democracy–tightening our borders, examining cargo from ships, and playing nicer with our neighbors is one example.

    So if Bush wanted to change the mission and maintain the sense of unity he had to begin with, he did a poor job of selling the bait-and-switch.