Thursday, September 11, 2008
It's time to move on
Past time, actually. Seven years have passed since that fateful day in 2001 - almost twice the length of World War II, or nearly the time from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to the campaign for Nixon's second term. A long, long time in political terms, at least as American life was once lived.
And yet we can't move on. For some of us, yes, the tragedy has begun to fade, or at least take its place in an appropriate timeline. Other Americans, however, keep licking the wound - indeed opening it afresh every year. Of course the Bush administration has had a hand in this, letting Osama bin Laden slip through its fingers again and again, the better to maintain its fear-driven mandate. Indeed, it's telling that suddenly the administration has begun skirmishing in Pakistan - finally, they're desperate to apprehend bin Laden, for the greatest October surprise ever.
But in the larger sense, bin Laden's capture hardly matters. In the larger sense, he won anyway, simply by enabling the most incompetent and reckless American president in history to send our country down the path of decline - perhaps unstoppable decline. He won by warping our national culture, by undermining and perhaps destroying our Constitution, by wrecking our standing in the world. His capture and execution will do nothing to reverse any of these horrific trends.
Perhaps the best way then, to mark another anniversary of September 11th is to ask oneself - how have I trancended the disaster? How have I begun to understand it accurately - that is, not as a cosmic clash between good and evil, but as a horrifying attack by a small band of terrorists with specific political aims? How have I begun to respond to those facts? How have I begun to resist those who trade on the horrors of that day for their own gain? How have I begun to restore America to what it should be, and not merely what it was? And most of all, how have I finally begun to forget, not the dead, no, but instead my own fear, my hatred, my wounded self-righteousness, my willingness to be duped? How have I begun to heal myself and my country?