Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11: What We Squandered

The air is going to be thick with remembrances today. Where we were six years ago; how the world changed forever; all that stuff.

I don't have any special remembrance tale. It was an ordinary morning. The weather was nicer than today; bright, crystal clear blue sky vs. (desperately needed) rain. Everyone knows what happened. Almost everyone had the same sense of unreality; of desperation; of chaos; of sadness. I also remember the ensuing days of surreality: of grounded airplanes; of unnaturally clear skies and the serendipity of unplanned layovers. Also the shock, which then gave way to rescue and cleanup along with grief and mourning.

But I also remember the unity. The sense of all being in this together. "American" finally stood with meaning, ethnic prefixes banished. The idea of war -- real war -- to go after the men behind this heinous act was strangely acceptable to many of the most doveish among us. Osama bin Laden took his rightful place beside Hitler, Stalin and Caligula as evil incarnate.

What changed? When?

Too soon the Robertsons and Falwells opened their mouths and poisoned the air far more than did the micronized concrete of lower Manhattan. Too soon the Man Who Would be Baseball Commissioner hijacked the tsunami of patriotism more surely than swarthy men with box cutters overpowered flight crews, snatching away his greatest opportunity for true leadership and allowing it to morph into his version of a Father's Day gift. Six years later, the opportunity for a United America to have made a true incursion into the war on real terrorism lies in shambles, bathed in the blood of over 3,000 Americans. How did we go so quickly from near world unity to the butt of world opinion even lower than 9/11/2001?

Would leadership have made a difference? What if we had had a Lincoln; a Roosevelt; a Churchill; a Meir? A Clinton with a closed zipper? The cynical would say no: we get the leadership we deserve; Americans are too self-destructive to maintain that kind of unity. All that bullshit.

Whether or not I believe differently, it saddens me that we will never know.


At Tue Sep 11, 10:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who has an office a few blocks from the WTC and a home nearby. Who witnessed and lived through it (the falling men and women). Who was locked out of my business for three months and nearly went under. I remember that day. The first plane shook my office flying over us. That’s how close it was

But that’s not important. What was important then was the unity we all felt down here and across the country. I was thinking today about the truck loads of water, toiletries, socks, food carts (Micky D’s, etc) everyone taking care of each other. But slowly it evolved as you describe. I saw it with the media. They were only too happy to talk me up have me take them to vista’s they could not get to, take my emotions, etc. Only to be dropped an hour later.

I was proud to put the American Flag on my loft door and volunteer for the Red Cross at the site. But that was all cooped for other reasons as you point out. Thank you for speaking with clarity. And let everyone know we all suffered whether we lost someone or were driving to work in Grand Rapids. 9|11 is not about one persons pain or patriotism vs. another. It is about our collective universe, which is becoming more and more Balkanized.

At Tue Sep 11, 11:40:00 AM, Blogger steph said...

I think if we had a Roosevelt, a Meir, or a Churchill we may have weilded that unity to wage a decisive war instead of a limp-wristed liberation effort. We may have actually been able to show terrorism financiers such as bin Laden that taking such actions is tantamount to committing suicide.

At Tue Sep 11, 01:46:00 PM, Blogger Suz said...

Great post. I'm just so damn sad today about the events of six years ago, and so damn mad about what the US government has done since then.

I think that someday a lot of Americans are going to realize that they miss their constitutional rights. I'm already feeling a little nostalgia for mine.

At Wed Sep 12, 01:22:00 AM, Blogger BillyBob said...

But go deeper, and imagine if Cnn were reporting on D day, or Iwo Jima? Or how about an organization like move on . org during the civil war? Having Cindy Sheehan protesting at Roosevelts' house because Hitler had nothing to do with Dec. 7th, yet her son was killed in the landing of Anzio? (No one can argue that the Italians had squat to do with the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor)??

At Wed Sep 12, 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

I wrote about it last night, too. Bottom line: we agree.

At Wed Oct 24, 08:40:00 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Good post, dinosaur.


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