September 10, 2006
9/10: A Definitional Day for the LeftBy Rick Moran
Tomorrow, while much of the country pauses to remember the victims of 9/11 on the five year anniversary of that horrible day, it will occur to many of us what those attacks signified: the day that the United States awoke from its decades—long slumber and finally faced up to the fact that we were at war with a grimly determined, fanatical enemy hell bent on destroying us.
For others, especially for those on the left, 9/11 will be remembered as a tragedy, a day when our 'chickens came home to roost' and nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens paid the price for our folly. In this historical construct, rather than remembering 9/11 as a wake up call, the left sees the anniversary as a day of atonement, a day to make amends for our past sins.
Michelle Malkin has an interesting piece about one aspect of this phenomenon and its weird manifestation in Washington state:
This has become known as '9/11 Denial' where the full implication of the attacks are simply put out of mind and the comfortable bromides and somnolent fantasies about the brotherhood of man and world peace are eagerly substituted. Harsh realities that require one to look into the abyss and accept the fact that evil men wish to do us enormous harm are carefully placed in a box and hidden away lest the children (and those with child—like minds) be exposed to the discomfort of a smashed worldview, battered and broken by the exigencies of history and the materiality of events.
This is only part of the equation, of course. Living in a world where quite literally there never was a 9/11 appeals to only a certain segment of the left — aging hippies and the radical sophists who have abandoned reality and created their own personal gulags of politically correct ideas and actions. For them, 9/11 is one more opportunity to demonstrate what they believe is their moral superiority over the rest of us.
But for the majority of the left, it is the yearning for a return to a 9/10 fantasy world that occupies their thoughts this weekend. These thoughts include a determined effort to carefully construct a historical narrative that proves that 9/11 was a gigantic mistake and that rather than moving on to face the assault on the West by radical Islamists, it would be better if we learned from our errors and repaired to the safety and security we believed were ours on 9/10.
There is obvious comfort in this historical fallacy. And there is political gain as well. For this reason, the left has built a storyline about 9/11 that takes the form of both a Chaucer—like cautionary tale and Hollywood conspiracy fable, all the better to appeal to the confusion many Americans are feeling about the aftermath of 9/11 and our response to terrorism in general.
That response — the invasion and overthrow of two regimes in the Middle East that supported terrorism — seems to many on the left to supply verification for Ward Churchill's thesis that 9/11 was the result of America's bullying and our insatiable desire to dominate. To the mountebanks who have spent the last 5 years spinning conspiracy theories about Haliburton and secret neocon cabals, the challenge became one of trying to translate their distrust of American power and loathing of American purpose into a palatable mix for the masses to latch on to and embrace.
While not completely swallowing the Ward Churchill view that 9/11 happened because we were hated throughout the world for policies promulgated before the attacks, the left has taken the bare bones of Churchill's critique and pasted it on to the aftermath of 9/11 to posit the notion that in the months following that awful day, 'the world was with us' and it was only because of the policies put in place since the attacks that the nations now despise us. This has the virtue of cleansing the historical record of any mistakes made by Bush's predecessor while blaming the President for the virulent strain of anti—Americanism that has infected the planet from Europe to the Middle East and beyond.
This myth of worldwide solidarity with America following 9/11 has been successfully advanced thanks to a stubborn refusal by most of us to look carefully beyond the outpouring of genuine feeling for the plight of New Yorkers (note: Pentagon victims never received similar sympathy) and the American people as a result of the catastrophe and examine the long held anti—American feelings of most of the rest of the world, who saw the attacks as both a punishment for our transgressions as well as an occasion for joy that the mighty USA had been brought down a peg or two in the scheme of things.
One need only look to our closest ally Great Britain for proof that the solidarity myth is a crock. Less than 48 hours after the attacks, former Ambassador to the Court of St. James Philip Lader appeared on the BBC program Question Time, where he was roundly booed and 'slow handclapped' after his defense of American policy, reducing that worthy almost to tears.
And despite the fact that the BBC apologized, William Shawcross, who was in Europe at the time of the attacks wrote on September 17, 2001:
Even the proof most often cited by 'The World Was With Us' crowd — a front page editorial in the French newspaper Le Monde entitled 'We are All Americans' — is, after close examination, nothing more than a rehash of American sins and an expression of the widespread view held by both elites and commoners that we got what we deserved.
John Rosenthal writing in The Wall Street Journal on October 17, 2004 on 'The Myth of 'Squandered Sympathy:'
The editorial that headlined the idea that 'We are all Americans' then degenerated into conspiracy mongering:
Almost from the start of the War on Terror, the left's critique of the President has utilized this myth to both rail against Administration actions and point to a time when our policies fostered good will around the world and a morality of purpose here at home. That time turns out to be 9/10 and the golden age that preceded it or, more specifically, anything that happened in America before January 20, 2001.
This is why Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the showing of ABC's The Path to 9/11. Any countervailing narrative that shows President Clinton in anything less than a flattering light, especially as it relates to his Administration's response to terrorism, must be suppressed. The shocking response by Democratic legislators in threatening The Disney Company, parent of ABC, with nothing less than yanking its lucrative local licenses to broadcast has, at bottom, a fervent desire to prevent any information that might show the truth of how the United States spent the 1990's sleepwalking through history.
And the outpouring of invective directed against the program has another cause as well: the belief that the Clinton—Albright policy of treating terrorism largely as a law enforcement problem would be revealed as the monumental failure it turned out to be. Viewing the terrorist problem as a 'nuisance' as John Kerry famously averred (as if bloodthirsty jihadists were nothing more than muggers) may be comforting to those who believe that our problems are a result of not stopping the world from spinning on 9/10. And the attraction of this narrative in a political sense may be that it resonates with voters who have become weary of the conflict and wish to elect those who would play along with the fantasy that 9/11 was a fluke and that we can all return to a time when we didn't have to think about annihilation and Armageddon.
In short, the left is opposing the showing of this film because 1) Clinton actions are criticized and 2) Bush's actions aren't criticized enough. The latter being the main point of anger for liberals in that it goes against everything they have tried to obfuscate for the past 5 years. They want the enduring image of 9/11 to be George Bush sitting in a classroom reading a children's book, not the towers collapsing or people jumping out of buildings. Anything that goes against The Narrative is a threat to expose the entire tissue of lies, exaggerations, misrepresentations, conspiracy fantasies, and deliberate falsehoods perpetrated over the last 5 years with the help of an all too willing media and a vast network of former government officials always willing to shift blame for their own inadequacies in the face of Islamic terrorism.
The great divide in American politics between 9/10 liberals and 9/12 conservatives may prove to be our undoing in the War on Terror unless some kind of consensus can be reached that bridges the chasm between those days. Whether that can be accomplished at this point is extremely doubtful. It may take another wake up call to bring about the kind of unity that is so sorely lacking thanks to the polarization of our politics and the outright denial of so many of the simple, incontrovertible fact that we are at war and the conflict began what seems so long ago on a stunningly beautiful September morning.
Rick Moran is the proprietor of the website Rightwing Nuthouse, and a frequent contributor to The American Thinker.