Monday, September 11, 2006


NRO includes James Lileks in its collection of writings about the terrorist attack.
Half a decade later the changes seem small, and perhaps that’s a blessing. If 9/11 had been followed by 10/17, 11/02, 12/24, the Smallpox Epidemic of ’02, the EMP blackouts of ’03, and so much promiscuous anthrax distribution that mailmen tottered around in Hazmat suits on the hottest day of July, America would look quite different. But the other shoe didn’t drop — or rather, Richard Reid was KO’d before he could light it — and consequently we don’t look at the paper for news about the latest attack. We look at the ads in the paper for news about plasma-TV sales.

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

The good news? We returned to our norm: cheerful industrious self-directed Americans who think in terms of fiscal quarters, not ancient grievances, and trust in Coke and Mickey to spread our message of tolerance and prosperity. The bad news? Same as the good. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Lileks also has a few comments (as well as a video clip) in today's Bleat.
I’ll tell you this: if I ran Time magazine, I wouldn’t have run a cover story titled “What We’ve Lost.”

What We’ve Done, perhaps. Who We Are. Why We Fight. What They Want. But “What We’ve Lost”?

I expected many things five years ago, but an epitaph in the face of survival wasn’t among them. Of course, when you recall the post 9 /11 cover "Why They Hate Us," you do have a nice set of bookends. Forgive me if I've little time to reread the tomes bracketed between those sentiments. Today is what it is. Tomorrow, however, requires our attention.

Last week he wrote an interesting alternative history for Newhouse... the columns that often become his Screed after a few days. Now, a few days later, he features the piece at his Screedblog.

Hell, let's cut to the chase: James Lileks' piece, probably inspired by John Lennon and Star Trek's mirror universe... and, of course, the genius that is John Kerry, Al Gore, and any number of folks from Kos and DU.
Imagine if America had taken a bellicose path after the tragedy of 9/11. Imagine if the red mist of madness had descended, and the US had invaded two sovereign states to impose “democracy” on unready people best left to their own traditions. Imagine if the government had built military bases near Iran, forcing the popular secular reformers to embark on a crash program to build nukes. (They’d just replaced “Death to America” with “Health to America, and A Nice Fig Torte, Too” as the national slogan. Now this!) Imagine if we had given in to paranoia and suspicion, and intercepted the conversations of suspected “terrorists” without asking the permission of the New York Times editorial board. How many attacks would we have suffered?

We have no time to ask such questions, of course; we’ve other pressing matters. There is still the war in Sudan, where US troops have been engaged in a peacekeeping mission for the last three years at the cost of several thousand lives. President Kerry vows to stay until the nation is stable, and he is correct. As a wise man once said: we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Unless the price is too high, the burden too great, the hardship too hard, the friend acts disproportionately, and the foe fights back. In which case, we need a timetable.


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