I don’t want to let this day pass without saying something. First of all, I hate this day; I can’t bear the coverage or the memories. Second of all, here are a couple of great columns from the time, the first from Christopher Hitchens, the second from Ian McEwan. I have quoted frequently from the Hitchens’ column over the years, for the simple reason that it is brilliant. But this year I thought I’d quote from the McEwan piece, brilliant in a different way.
The hijackers used fanatical certainty, misplaced religious faith, and dehumanising hatred to purge themselves of the human instinct for empathy. Among their crimes was a failure of the imagination. As for their victims in the planes and in the towers, in their terror they would not have felt it at the time, but those snatched and anguished assertions of love were their defiance.
I cannot let this day go by without posting something. I’ll start with the still relevant Against Rationalization by the much-missed Christopher Hitchens. Oh, how we could benefit from his wisdom now!
And I’ll add this wonderful Brendan Behan quote, a toast (of course – he was an Irishman, after all):
To America, my new found land: the man that hates you hates the human race.
Finally, some thoughts that have been percolating: I notice that 16 years after that awful day, so many seem to have forgotten its significance. This morning, there was more hurricane coverage than anything else, which, I suppose is understandable, but still, our short memory-span is disturbing. Many difficult and terrible decisions had to be made in the weeks and months after the attacks and now, so many are still blaming the U.S. rather than the Islamist fascists responsible. The hijackers should never be romanticized as freedom fighters – the last thing any of them wanted was the expansion of freedom.
There is a lot I could write about this day and what it means to me — and in coming posts I will — but right now I will leave you with a link to a column that was written only a few days after the attacks, a column that still holds up. Not surprisingly, it was written by Christopher Hitchens. How we miss him.
The link to the whole column is here — money quote below.
But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there’s no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about “the West,” to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours. Any decent and concerned reader of this magazine could have been on one of those planes, or in one of those buildings–yes, even in the Pentagon.