September 11, 2008

Seven Years

No, I'm still not really over it.

Yes, the passage of time helps out with perspective. The world did not actualy change much that day. Our perception of it did, though. We did some things in response to it that in retrospect seem like panic and seem like they weren't really warranted. And the degree of fear we allowed ourselves to feel has not proven justified by events subsequent. (Perhaps to some degree, the lack of further similar attacks on us has been to the credit of our government's efforts to protect us; we'll likely never really know one way or the other.)

But that does not mean that this day, seven years ago, was unimportant or insignificant. We were reminded, forcefully and with a price paid in blood, that there are people out there who hate us and want to kill us. Their hatred comes from religious differences, jealousy of our wealth and power, and the fact that our prominence around the world makes us an easy and effective target against whom the dispossessed of other worlds can be rallied. In other words, we were reminded that we have enemies.

It is the duty of our government to hunt down those enemies and neutralize them.

I say "neutralize" rather than "kill" because it is not always necessary that they die in order to be rendered impotent. But I'm not taking "kill" off the table.

We in no way invited, encouraged, or deserved what happened. We in no way justified that attack by anything we did or said, even if we have done or said things that are not justifiable themselves. The people who died that day especially were in no way guilty of or complicit in the causes of their deaths. They were, in every way, the victims of a dastardly and unprovoked attack. Their deaths were an affront to us all as a nation -- an affront to the civilized world in general. As a nation, we were and are and continue to be justified in finding the people reponsible and bringing them to justice.

I am critical of the Administration at times. I have grown critical of the war in Iraq. I am frustrated that the masterminds behind the attacks on our country are still at large. But let there be no doubt -- there are evil people in the world and as a general rule, they stand in opposition to the United States rather than with us or within our own ranks.

The picture above is still terrifying, and deeply saddening, even now that several years have passed. But it occurs to me that we shouldn't forget how we all felt that day. I think you should still feel the same way when you see a reminder like that. There is a chance that one day, somehow, you'll have the opportunity to find someone responsible. Or someone who would do something like it to us to to our friends or other innocent people again. And maybe you'll have the opportunity to do something about it. And in that moment, you should remember how you felt on September 11, 2001.


Thomas said...

oh the bogeyman is back spreading fear

i agree with you that the attacks of september 11th were not justified, but our government is also equally unjustified in many of its actions.

the us has blood on its hands too, and that is important to remember on patriot day as well, keeps us honest and humble.

the us government has created enemies also.

Burt Likko said...

You know, you and I do agree on quite a lot of things here. But I have a hard time with the response of criticism of America to commemorate an event like 9/11.

For instance, on April 24, I would be reluctant to point out that there had been significant numbers of Armenian Turks who had engaged in guerrila activity to support Russian advances. Doesn't mean it isn't true, and it doesn't mean that there wouldn't be a time to analyze such a thing. But symbolically, it provides a degree of moral cover to the Turks who slaughtered so many innocents. The Turks who killed one and a half million noncombatant civilians under their power because of religious and ethnic differences do not deserve that sort of moral cover.

Similarly, while there is certainly an appropriate time and forum for levying criticism at the U.S. government and its policies -- and one may certainly do so while remaining patriotic and loyal to the country -- doing so in the context of a recognition of memorial events on September 11 is a bit inappropriate.

Thomas said...

i have nothing wrong with you commemorating an event like 9/11. what i have a problem with is you commemorating it with a photo filled with explosions. i consider that inappropriate. the images we have are part of our memories and emotions and can easily be triggered by photos less traumatic than the one you posted.

i recently commemorated those humans who died in needless wars (including vietnam and iraq). I could have easily chosen from 16 years worth of photos of dead vietnamese or napalm explosions,or even 5 years of images of the effects of depleted uranium in iraq but i thought that might be inappropriate.

and when exactly are we supposed to commemorate those who died in vietnam or other wars(excluding us soldiers)? i think the day after "patriot" day is a good time to let americans know that many innocent humans have also died at the hand of americans (a lot more than the 3000 that died on 9/11). like i said, it keeps us honest and humble instead of prideful and nationalistic.

Burt Likko said...

What's wrong with pro-American nationalism ?

I'm serious about that question. I am proud to be an American, I happen to think this is a pretty good country ("good" in the sense of ethics and morality) despite its flaws and misdeeds.

Thomas said...

there's nothing wrong with pro-american nationalism per se.

but unchecked pride (pride used to be a sin, still should be) however leads to needless wars.

i'm proud to be an american too, otherwise i wouldn't live here, but i'm informed enough to know that america has made terrible mistakes in the past. i'm self-regulating my pride so i don't get so nationalistic that i feel like going to war hastily.

i answered your question, now answer mine from the previous post. when should we commemorate those innocent humans who have died at the hand of america?

Burt Likko said...

I would suggest honoring the dead on the anniversary date of the resolution of hostilities in the conflict.

Note that we can honorably commemorate the dead of both sides of a conflict without necessarily admitting fault -- although I'd agree with the proposition that if we were at fault, it would be better that we apologize for it in some official way. But sometimes, the debate that would lead up to such an admission could be counterproductive for the causes of peace and reconciliation because it could open up old wounds and political issues that were resolved when the conflict ended. These sort of thing should be apoltical, or at least nonpartisan. Achieving the sort of perspective necessary to do that is probably not possible while there are still large numbers of former combatants alive, on either side. So it may be better to leave side questions of placing blame on someone.

Maybe that wouldn't be good enough to satisfy you, but it would still be better than nothing. It's worked with our former adversaries in Europe and with Japan.