Friday, September 11, 2009

An Enduring Tragedy

Eight years ago today, we lost thousands of our family, friends, and fellow Americans in an unprovoked, despicable attack that will be forever remembered as this generation's Pearl Harbor.

May we never forget our loss or the murderers who inflicted it.

It's interesting now to go back at look at reactions to the 9/11 attacks. For instance, try this one, from September 19, 2001:

We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

So the author is saying we should empathize with the 9/11 murderers and try to understand them, to relate to their childhoods or their lack of career advancement potential. They didn't want to kill Americans, they were just poor, or ignorant, or felt they were helpless, or were in despair.

Can you imagine someone making this argument on behalf of gangbangers who kill a child in a drive-by? How about KKK members who burn crosses or kill minorities? Maybe we shouldn't use military force against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, instead sending Dr. Phil and teams of therapists to raise their self-esteem?

You know what makes the quotation above even worse? Its author is now the President of the United States.

The quotation is from a September 19, 2001 article The One (then The Future One) wrote for the Hyde Park Herald, a local Chicago newspaper. (Hat tip to Red State and to The Incomparable Michelle Malkin for the article).

Compare The One's views with Tony Blair's:

So what do we do? Don't overreact some say. We aren't. We haven't lashed out. No missiles on the first night just for effect. Don't kill innocent people. We are not the ones who waged war on the innocent. We seek the guilty. Look for a diplomatic solution. There is no diplomacy with Bin Laden or the Taliban regime. State an ultimatum and get their response. We stated the ultimatum; they haven't responded. Understand the causes of terror. Yes, we should try, but let there be no moral ambiguity about this: nothing could ever justify the events of 11 September, and it is to turn justice on its head to pretend it could. The action we take will be proportionate; targeted; we will do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties.

But understand what we are dealing with. Listen to the calls of those passengers on the planes. Think of the children on them, told they were going to die. Think of the cruelty beyond our comprehension as amongst the screams and the anguish of the innocent, those hijackers drove at full throttle planes laden with fuel into buildings where tens of thousands worked. They have no moral inhibition on the slaughter of the innocent. If they could have murdered not 7,000 but 70,000 does anyone doubt they would have done so and rejoiced in it? There is no compromise possible with such people, no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror. Just a choice: defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must. Any action taken will be against the terrorist network of Bin Laden.

The election of a president with so little understanding of the world, so little appreciation for the lives lost on 9/11, and so much desire to understand and therapize America's enemies is simply part of the enduring tragedy of 9/11.

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